Perfect is the enemy of the good.

This is one of Holly Lisle’s concepts in her How to Think Sideways class.  Something I seem to have forgotten in my quest to get published.

Lately I’ve been feeling out of sorts and frustrated with my writing.  Darklight has been stalled, the poems I wrote for Turtleduck Press were like pulling teeth, and every time I sat down to write I was paralyzed by the fear that whatever I write won’t be good enough.  That anything I wrote would be crap and no one would want to publish any of it.  That everyone else would be successful but I wouldn’t be because my writing sucked and wasn’t publishable.

Talk about a head case.  I started thinking more positively, that no, my stuff didn’t suck and yes, I would be published someday, and that was that.  And I remembered how I used to write when I first started 10 years ago (!)  : I wrote with joy.  I didn’t worry about anything on the page.  I kept moving forward.  I didn’t analyze anything to death and I rarely, if ever, rewrote anything during drafting.  But as time went on, this perfectionism crept in through the cracks.  It was insidious.  Just a “that first scene isn’t right.  Maybe you should rewrite it?”  became “wow, that whole first chapter sucks.  Let’s start again.  And again. And again.”  And this is why Darklight‘s first two chapters have been rewritten no less than 5 times.  Head. Desk.

I worried too much about making it perfect — the mood, the hook, the main character — and I completely derailed myself.  I’m not even supposed to rewrite while drafting.  It used to be an ironclad rule.  Now it’s more of an afterthought.

So I decided to bring the love back.  I will write and not worry about anything anymore.  I’ll let the story unfold the way it’s going to unfold, and I will follow my muse.  NO REWRITES.  I can make notes.  But that’s it.

And I will continue to work at getting published.  I’ll edit and revise and rewrite when it’s time.

And lastly, I won’t ever tell myself that I’m not good enough, because I AM.  And I know that deep down.  Sometimes it gets lost in the daily shuffle.  No more.

As Holly Lisle says, write with joy.

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2 thoughts on “Perfect is the enemy of the good.

  1. Oh, hon. I know the feeling. Celestial Voices was easy, but the tundra story was like pulling teeth, and I’m willing to bet it was because of the pressure — I knew it would be going up for sale.

    This is why I keep doing NaNo year after year. The sheer breakneck pace and the momentum from the community just do not allow for perfectionism, and I need that reminder regularly.

    Keep going. We can find the love again.

  2. So true. While I can’t do a real Nano because of my wrists, I’ll be doing my own version and hope to crank out something this year. 😉

    I think it’s all about the pressure. Darklight hit that same phase and I determined it was partly because I plan on pubbing it through TDP next year. Pressure! But hey, it needs to get written first, right? Then I’ll worry about everything else.

    Cheers,
    E.

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