Decisions, decisions

Posted by SOTTO Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I was listening to Terry Gross's Fresh Air interview with Michael Lewis at the gym today. Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The Big Short) has been following around President Obama for the past six months, fly-on-the-wall-of-Air-Force-One style, for a Vanity Fair profile.

The President makes decisions all day long. He's "the decision-maker," in the immortal words of George W. Bush. Research has shown that everybody has a certain amount of decision juice -- varying levels, but when it runs out, it's a while before it comes back. Call in mana, in the D&D sense. The more decisions you make in a day, the worse your decisions tend to be.

I found it interesting that the President has done a few things to reduce unnecessary decision-making. He threw out all his suits except for some identical grey and identical blue ones. (Shades of Steve Jobs.) He never gets involved in what's for dinner; whatever shows up, he eats.

That's probably the least interesting point in a fascinating profile, but it might be the most useful for screenwriters. Screenwriters, like all creative people, make decisions all day, too. Decisions about fictional people, sure, but every page is a page full of decisions.

So how do you avoid running out of go-juice?

I think that's where a lot of our procrastination comes from. Reading Nate Silver obsessively during elections involves no decision making at all. Paying the bills involves no decision making.

Also, that's why I so fervently leave the negotiating to my agent. One of the many things agents do is remove much of the stress from negotiations by taking it on themselves.

But I wonder how many other unnecessary decisions I could remove from my life?


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