You start out writing as a fresh-faced and enthusiastic newbie writer, merrily sending out your work into the world. In your head it is simply a matter of time before you get spotted by a literary agent or publisher. During this early stage you don’t seem to worry too much about your work because it’s amazing and perfect! Yay!
Then you realise that your writing has weaknesses. Its not perfect or amazing. This is one of the most emotional and tear jerking stages for any writer. You reach this stage via some stinging feedback, followed by a period of comparing your work to a load of successful high-profile authors, followed by some more painful feedback. The literary penny drops and you realise your writing is not perfect! *Scream*
You start to read every book on writing technique and every blog post on improving your writing. You write thousands of words and come up with hundreds of plot ideas, all of which you delete. During this frenzied state you set an unachievable level of writing perfection in your head.
If what you write does not match the level of perfection in your head – you bin it. You are ruthless, frantic and exhausting. Nothing is finished because you don’t deem it to be perfect.
You never question the ridiculous level of quality that you are expecting yourself to attain and sadly you never create anything. Say hello to writer perfectionism!
Here’s how to get rid of this pesky writer ailment:
- Chant the maxim ‘done is better than perfect.’ Include it in an early morning affirmation. You need to start finishing your work, regardless of its quality. It is vital that you break the cycle of not finishing anything, as this will eventually erode your moral. You can then use later drafts to refine and change it.
- Remember no one dies or starves as a result of your sagging plot or lifeless characters. At the end of the day it’s just writing.
- Accept that you will never produce perfect writing as this cannot be produced. Every piece of writing can be improved upon. Even famous authors produce work which isn’t perfect.
- If you are set on being a perfectionist do this through spelling and grammar.
- Read this quote from Anna Lamott:
‘Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping stone just right, you won’t die. The truth is you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you and have a lot more fun while they are doing it.’ Anne Lamott
So, ditch the pursuit of perfection and start writing!
Have a great day folks!