How to Get Unstuck: Stop Planning

Sara Benincasa
4 min readMar 28
Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

I was raised by someone whose job was to plan: to ensure adequate allocation of resources; to cross the t’s and dot the i’s in advance of the final rollout of a product or program; and to envision potential disaster scenarios and develop response strategies. I copied the great aspects of that behavior, but I also imitated or inherited the negatives, too.

Maybe you were also raised by someone like that. Or perhaps you grew up in an environment that was itself something of an intermittent disaster. Maybe neither! Maybe both!

Perhaps you, Child of Overplanning and/or Emotional Chaos, actually rebelled as an adult by ignoring potential issues and developing tunnel vision, working ceaselessly toward a goal without looking side to side. Along the way, you likely missed some important signs and sometimes ended up with an insufficient or untenable final project.

Or perhaps, like me, you experienced the illusion of 360-degree vision, working toward covering all bases at all times, no breaks, no rest, until you collapsed from exhaustion. For all our caution and planning, people like us do not always build a better creation. Some might even say our preparatory work is really procrastination in perfectionist disguise, but I think that’s another essay.

While I continue to ease up on my desire to plan for all eventualities in the the personal, professional, spiritual and physical arenas, I realized recently that my creative life had once again become bogged down by the false belief that if I only planned for every last moment, I might be able to write something flawless and fabulous on the first try.

Here is how the planning delusion works for me: I convince myself that I can only write a first draft for a pilot, feature film or novel if I’ve first constructed a comprehensive outline along with a character/show bible, mood board, and even a soundtrack for writing the thing I’m definitely going to write just as soon as I plan this one last detail.

As a result, I get stuck in the muck of endless planning and don’t actually execute that first draft. Let us discuss why this is unhelpful.

First drafts are flawed by nature. They are meant to be imperfect. And if you don’t get to the first draft, there can be no second draft, or third…

Sara Benincasa

Author, REAL ARTISTS HAVE DAY JOBS & other books. Writer of scripts. Host of WELL, THIS ISN’T NORMAL podcast.