Giving up on Perfect to get to Done

I’ve got a serious freaking deadline looming.

I need to write 50,000 to 60,000 GREAT words by September 1st.

Seriously.

ACK!

And they have to be PERFECT. They have to be THE BEST. EVER. IN THE WORLD.

It’s a lot of pressure.

So, here’s what I’ve decided:

They don’t have to be the best EVER. The just have to tell the story. I can revise later.

I keep telling myself the same thing I tell my seven-year old every time she tries something hard and gets frustrated and discouraged by her inability to do it perfectly on the first try –

“No one gets it right the first time. Everyone has to practice, everyone has to try again, and again, and again. No one is born knowing how to (fill in the blank). We all have to learn, one step, one day at a time.”

So, now my challenge is to take this deadline and meet it, one day at a time, one word at a time, until I have a finished book. It might not be perfect on September 1st. But it will be done.

And then I can revise it until it shines.

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9 Comments

Filed under Writing

9 responses to “Giving up on Perfect to get to Done

  1. Bree, Grasshopper! If you answer this question, you will be able to complete your quest!

    “How do you eat an elephant?”

  2. Bee

    You can do it! I do editing for a local publishing house, so I have a great respect for anyone who can finish a book, even if it’s pretty darn rough. You CAN do this, Bree.

  3. thinkbannedthoughts

    @Frank – I know, I know…
    For me, it’s not the one bite at a time, or one word at a time, I do get that. It’s making/helping/convincing myself to stop trying to make it all perfect on the first try.
    This is a chronic point of learning in my life – perfect example, I apparently didn’t talk – AT ALL – until I was about one and a half. And then, I shocked the word with full, grammatically correct sentences.
    My family thinks I was secretly practicing in my room until I knew I could get it perfect and then… voila!
    I did the same thing with riding a bike – I wouldn’t do it, wouldn’t do it, and then – I did it, and rode the MS 150, started mountain bike racing, etc. But I wouldn’t go near a bike until I KNEW I could ride it without falling over or otherwise making an ass of myself.
    With my writing – I have to free myself from the ties of perfection and accept that there’s going to be some revising and editing down the line. And the funny thing is that I don’t even mind the editing – I actually enjoy it, so it’s not fear of future work that bothers me, it’s just this latent need to get it right, no perfect, the first time out the gate that kills me.

  4. Your words are so right on for me right now, even though I’m in the “revising till it shines” phase. I’m revising till it’s in danger of being pulverized, and in that, I need to let go of the pursuit of perfection and accept ‘close enough.’ Good thoughts.

    • thinkbannedthoughts

      @Chris – I know how that goes. Depending on your deadlines, I usually advise people to step away from it for a couple weeks, write something else, read something else, or just go for a lot of walks and then read it one more time fresh, as if you don’t have every word burned into your soul already.
      You’ll catch everything important that way, and be at far less risk of manuscript pulverization too!
      Good luck!!

  5. I had a deadline for LOST PRINCE and I turned it in with one revision. I’ve never done that before! Usually I revise stuff to death.

    And my editors loved it. And my main editor worked with me on it and we made it a much better work.

    Deadlines don’t leave a ton of time for uber-revision.

    • thinkbannedthoughts

      Blessedly, they also don’t leave time for a lot of second guessing or caving in to big D Doubt. It’s just write or die time!

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