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When the Spanish conquistador Cortes landed in Mexico in the 1500s, he burned his ships on the beach. There was no going back. It was survive—conquer—or die.
I’ll put aside for the moment my moral argument with the Spanish conquistadors, and the fact that this story is utterly false. (According to Wikipedia, he scuttled the ships to prevent a mutiny. But whatever.) Sometimes, it’s a pretty useful philosophy for living your life. Choices, second chances—these things can be paralyzing. If I can always go back, how can I move forward after a decision?
This is how I’ve been feeling revising my latest book. It needs work. I need to make some big changes. But there are multiple ways I could take the story, and I’ve been stymied in a swamp of possibilities for weeks. The only way to get out, I think, is to pick one boardwalk out of the marsh and burn the rest of them to the ground.
Usually, when I’m revising, I save every deleted word. You never know when you’ll need it, right? But not this time. I’m hitting delete on tens of thousands of words and not looking back. The only way out is to write my way out.
How do you force yourself out of tough spots?