Monday, September 13, 2010

When will it be good enough?

I've become a perfectionist about my writing.

This will amuse those of you who know me well; I'm not a perfectionist about anything else. I'm one of those people lucky and clever enough that I've been able to skate through school and career without too much effort. I worked hard at school and my various jobs, but I always had a stopping point at which I knew it was good enough. With a few painful exceptions, I was usually right.

Perhaps that's my problem now; I don't have an agent, I've never had any fiction published. So I have no sense of "good enough" in terms of my writing, except that it's never been good enough before.

I think some people around me believe I'm working too hard. In comparison to some of my classmates, I'm putting in a lot more time. But writing is what I've wanted to do since I was a little kid. I'm pursuing my dream.

So it makes sense that I'll push and push until I know Project Sparkle is absolutely right. Or at least the best that I can do in the next 17 days.

Are you a perfectionist about your writing? Other things?

9 comments:

  1. I am the queen of PERFECTION (and the princess of procrastination). But I've learned to just write it down even when it's bad and push through. It didn't happen overnight, but I realized that I wasn't making progress -- because I kept going back and "cleaning" up stuff. I learned to push forward knowing that I could always come back later.

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  2. You're absolutely right, Karen, and that's what I keep telling myself. But with my deadline looming closer and closer, I get more paranoid about reaching perfection. But I need to focus on getting through this sweep through the draft now and then worry whatever else I have time to worry about!

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  3. Anne, I have wanted to even revise my published work, that's how perfectionist I am ... but I do let go once it's in print form.

    Right now I'm in a horribly tantrum mode and I can't seem to get past it. So, no words of advice. Keep writing.

    You are not alone.
    Vijaya

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  4. Nothing wrong with trying to make your work the best it can be. You're probably older and/or more serious about your career than your classmates. Treasure this time in your life; there will be plenty of opportunity to loosen up later on when the mortgages/ear infections/aging parents of life conspire to thwart you at every turn. Because you put the time and effort in now, you'll be able to continue despite the other things.

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  5. Thanks, Vijaya! Misery loves company, huh? I'm wishing you all the best that you're able to get through this and move on.

    Anne, you are so wise! Thank you.

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  6. I'm at essentially the same point you are: I'm not published yet and up until now I've managed to skate by on just enough effort to get what I want. But suddenly nothing I do is good enough. I go back and reread the work I've done the day before and I comb over it endlessly. I might go through 50 revisions before I'm half satisfied. I was never this way before.

    I'm telling myself this is a good thing. That I need to be this way in order to get published. But it's not much fun, is it? I almost miss the days when I thought what I did was just fine, no matter how awful it was. Life was easier then and I went to bed happier.

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  7. Exactly, Mary! I'm so eager to start on my next project, in the hopes that I can regain some of that early, ignorant enthusiasm! I hope you can find the same.

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  8. I could revise until the end of time, so I always just let others tell me when it's ready. And then, honestly, I never read my "finished" products. Hope I don't have to for years to come.
    It's hard, this business ....

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  9. I think I need to lean on others a bit more, too, Heidi. I'm so close to the writing, I know every flaw, no matter how (hopefully!) tiny. Interesting that you never read your finished books! I'm not sure I could, either. At least now when I notice mistakes I can make an attempt at fixing them! =)

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