Last week I once again pointed to Stephen J. Cannell’s video on writer’s block. As I watched the video I chuckled – the truth is I wouldn’t recognize perfection if it knocked on the door and introduced itself. If you think about it, I’ll bet you wouldn’t either.
If you can’t recognize perfection demanding perfection in your writing is a loosing game; you’ll never be satisfied, you’ll never submit and you’ll be sure each client hates your work even when that isn’t true.
For example, a long-time writer friend of mine, a writer who has been published and has edited national magazines, continues to tell me he wants to write fiction. And in fact, unlike me, he has actually written a couple of novels. But he won’t show them to anyone, let alone submit them to an agent or publisher. Knowing his other writing my hunch is they are probably pretty good; he, however, is convinced they’re not and so they languish.
Or how about the new writer who has made some headway earning by writing for content mills and the $2-$5 per 500 word folks. It’s my contention that if you’ve managed to get two or three of these done and actually gotten paid it’s time to drop the mills and begin to move up, offering your work to both clients and to publishers. I can’t tell you how many of these folks I know who won’t budge. They would rather have the money in hand than risk being rejected because they aren’t good enough.
I’m not the only well paid writer who talks about the absolute futility of letting some notion of perfect writing stop you from getting workds on paper and out to the world.
John Soares has a great article on the dangers of perfectionism for freelance writers.
The Florida Writers Convention blog has a slightly different take called The curse of perfectionism and value of crap.
Jeff Goins subtitles his post on perfectionism with “there’s probably a typo in this post. An I’m okay with that.”
Sure, we all want our writing to be good – good enough to be read and to make a difference for our readers.
I have yet to read a piece of writing that, in my opinion, couldn’t be improved. Recognizing that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy reading. Far from it. I’m truly grateful for those writers who have moved beyond their perfectionism and written anyway.
How do you avoid perfectionism in your writing?
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