I was chatting with an exceptionally creative person who introduced me to the phrase “late deciding.” He said of himself that he liked not to rush the “not knowing” part of creating and, rather than coming to conclusions prematurely so as to shut down the experience of anxiety, he preferred to “hang out” with the anxiety, allow himself all the time it took to actually know, and only then make the requisite creative decisions.
He recognized what a strain this put on those who were waiting on him to decide and who needed his decisions “sooner than that.” He empathized with them and sympathized with them but he refused to change his ways just so as to make their parts of the process easier on them. He did the best he could to keep them updated—which generally meant saying, “Sorry, I don’t know yet”—and he informed them of his decisions as soon as he was able. But beyond that he had to honor his process, since it produced the best and deepest results—results for which he regularly won top awards.
Naturally it is good that we get things done in a timely fashion. Nor do we want to use the idea of “late deciding” as yet another rationale for procrastinating or not engaging fully with the process. But it is also the case that not making premature decisions just to ease our anxiety is a vital part of the creative process. Beethoven sometimes took decades to make his musical decisions! Yes, that is a long time; let us hope that your decisions come more quickly than that. But let us also hope that they do not come before they are actually ready to come—that is, that they do not come just because you want the anxiety of not knowing to go away.
Eric Maisel’s latest book is SECRETS OF A CREATIVITY COACH. To check it out: