Could your quest for perfection in your writing be your Achilles’ heel?
Are you waiting for the perfect words … the perfect scenario … the perfect dialogue … the perfect setup … the perfect solution … the perfect ANYTHING to be in place before you commit or continue on a book or writing project?
Could your quest be an excuse for choosing not to begin?
If you are, why? If “perfection” must come from your eyes, will it be generated from the eyes, the experience of your reader? Could the reaching for the holy grail of perfection be really a shield … and excuse to not go forward or to complete something that you are currently working on? Something, gulp, that could open you and your work up to criticism?
In last month’s blog post, I shared with you a media situation where I was on a TV show and I ended up revealing how my 19-year-old son died, connecting it with a local tragedy that was unrolling to viewers’ eyes and ears as I was being interviewed. What I didn’t include in the blog, or tell the TV audience, was that year had been my year from hell.
One of my partners had embezzled moneys from a loan that I personally guaranteed. Her theft ended up costing me in excess of one million dollars—we lost:
- our home
- our antiques and art
- all our investments
- the cars
We sold everything we had to pay off the loan where she had siphoned moneys. And, I lost my health with three surgeries within six months, one for cervical cancer. On top of it, I was also under contract for my second book with Simon & Schuster—a contract that I was struggling with and behind on my timelines. I was one stressed out emotional and financial mess as I tried to keep my business going that employed ten others—all dependent upon me to be creative and bring in new clients for them to work with.
One morning, a humongous display of flowers arrived at my front door. With it was a note from my editor saying she would arrive the following week to be with me, to work with me, to finish my book. The one that I wanted to be “perfect.” After all, this was going to have a multiple city book launch and lots of events were planned. She just said, “We will get it done.” And we did.
Was the book perfect? No.
Was it good enough? Yes it was—at least for my editor and publisher. And for me, where I was, it was—and my family needed the second half of the $75,000 advance that was hooked to it plus I desperately needed something that I could stamp “done” on.
Professional is required. Perfection is not.
I don’t know of an author who doesn’t want to go over the book “one more time” – surely, there is a “t” that didn’t get crossed in it or the tense is wrong in a sentence. After all, 17 edits have been done, one more won’t hurt. Right?
Wrong. Your book doesn’t have to be perfect. What it does need is to get out in the marketplace, generating sales, recognition for it and you, creating SuperFans for it and your future work. Perfect—no … professional—yes.
The odds are, your book will never be perfect in every way—what it needs to be is good enough … good enough to get your book ball rolling. In your next edition, you can do another tweak, but get it out there.
If you don’t, if you choose to sit on your book with constant tweaking, reedits, in search of the missing “t” and “i”, windows will close. Your competition—yes other authors in your genre are competition—will suck up your space and moneys that could have come your way if you had moved sooner, quicker.
The truthiness: perfectionism is procrastination. Being in front of the wave, or at least on it, is a heck of a lot better than being in the after-foam where the buzz has crested and crashed.
You won’t be able to get near perfection; to have the opportunity to kiss it; or to experience its juiciness unless you just begin. Start. What you create just may be delicious to the eyes of the reader as he or she tastes your words, your story, your ahas and revelations. You’ve created magic for them. My take: that’s perfection.
Get started. Begin. Continue. Put it out there. And starting working on “next” …