Perfection is the Enemy of Completion
Filed under: Tips for Writers Writing Mastery Tagged with: nanowrimo Tips for Writers writer's block writing hacks writing mastery writing productivity Writing Routines (LMAP) writing tips
I don’t know about you but I’m a perfectionist, especially when it comes to my writing. I lie in bed at night thinking about all the ways I can improve what I wrote that day. This is the natural state of the writer. Always wanting to make it better. Always wanting to go back and tinker. Always wanting to revise until it’s perfect. But I’m here to tell you, after finishing more than 15 novels in less than ten years, that perfection is the ENEMY of completion. I think it’s safe to say that the only reason I’m able to write as many novels as I do in such a short period of time (I’m averaging about 4 a year now) is because I’ve learned how to kidnap my inner perfectionist. That’s right, she’s bound and gagged in the closet as we speak. She won’t be let out until that first draft is finished.
Finishing a novel is all about momentum. Moving forward every day and not back. Which is why I don’t edit my novels until I have the first draft finished. That’s right. No looking back, no tinkering, no fixing misspelled words. Just keep going. Finish the novel. Don’t perfect the novel. Because honestly, how can you perfect something that’s not done? How can you have any sense of clarity until you’ve seen the full picture? Or, what I like to say, how can you possibly decorate a house until it’s built? Build the house, make it messy, make it sloppy, make it bare bones. Only then can you figure out where the furniture goes, and what color to paint the living room.
Drafting is not about writing a perfect novel. It’s about finishing one. And yes, shutting off your inner perfectionist will pretty much feel like you’re wearing mismatched shoes…on the wrong feet…and the laces are untied…and there’s peanut butter in the toes, but you can do it. Be uncomfortable for however long the first draft takes. Push yourself to just finish the book. Then you can kick off those mismatched shoes, roll up your sleeves, and let your inner perfectionist go to town.