Monday, April 15

The Pursuit of Perfection


I seem to be in a bit of a philosophical mood of late. As I'm working through this draft of A Highlander's Ransom, I've been thinking a lot about what drives me... and what holds me back. It would surprise no one to learn that the need for perfection can be detrimental to a person's success, especially for a writer. We aren't just artists—we're creators. Our stories are our babies, and we want them to be just right.

But what happens when our incessant need to make the story perfect destroys our hopes of publication?  You could be an amazing writer, but if you never let go and move on, your talent could go undiscovered.

I’m not going to lie; I struggle with this every time I sit down at my laptop and open up my story. It’s no secret that I edit as I go. A lot of authors say it is a terrible habit to get into, but I can’t help but disagree. Everyone writes differently, so it would be foolish and na├»ve to assume the same rules apply to all of us. Of course, I do understand where they’re coming from. If something feels off to me, I can spend hours or days on one scene, desperately trying to fix it. In the end, it could be one little word that no one else would notice. Is it a bad thing that I spent all of that time on one section? Yes and no.

Yes, because I could move on and figure it out later. In the time it takes me to fix one paragraph, I could have written four pages. As well, the editing process can remove the writer from the flow of creative thoughts.

No, because in the end, my revision time is shorter compared to other people. Whereas they often have to go back and rewrite whole scenes from scratch, I’ve already done that. By the time I type THE END, the majority of my edits are already completed. As well, I’ve found that if I fix it right away, I avoid writing myself into a corner later on.

In the end, I think both tactics work. It’s truly up to you to decide which one works best for you. I’ve accepted the fact that my “first draft” takes longer to write, even though I envy those who can write a story in two weeks. Still, I need to work on loosening the reins a bit and letting my CPs step up to help me out. As the picture above says: Perfection: Success is the art of doing ordinary things in extraordinary ways. No matter what, I need to keep that in mind.

What about you? Do you struggle to let go and move on? Have you found anything that helps you?

4 comments:

  1. Everybody's got their own way of going about this crazy writing thing we do. If that's your process, then it's your process. As long as it works for you. If it stops working, be open to other ideas. =o)

    And be prepared if you chase perfection and can never quite catch it. Sometimes just getting close is the best we can do.

    See? Now you've got me all philosophical, too. ;o)

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  2. B.E.- I agree. We all have our own styles, and I think they change with each book, just as parenting would change with each child (oooo there's me being even deeper, hehehe).

    Oh yes, I know and agree with you. I just try to make my stories as good as *I* can make them. I'm learning to let go and let my CPs help me if something is wrong. =)

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  3. It takes me a long time to write my first draft because I revise as I go. I used to worry this was the wrong way to write until I realized it's the best way for me to write.

    Fear of failure has been a big issue for me. Over the years my self doubt (and the need for perfection) has held me back. I'm learning to let these feelings go and just write the best book I can write.

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  4. Jen- Yay! We're like twins =D

    I have a fear of failure, too. I've learned that sometimes I just need to let go and have other people help me out.

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