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?


  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.

  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!

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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 ....

  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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