I’ve had a few emails from newsletter readers about writing and perfectionism. Like most writers, I’ve spent more time than I’d like to confess worrying over a single sentence. The truth is, perfection is an illusion. As writers we can only write as perfectly as we can in the moment. Two years from now you’ll probably be able to write even better – but today isn’t the future.
I’ve written a handful of magazine articles that are among the best words I’ve ever strung together. I’m immensely proud of them AND I know that today I could make them even better. Anne Lamott (who I seem to be frequently quoting these days) wrote:
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
So, dear reader, is perfectionism keeping you from writing your heart? Leave a comment if it is.
Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper. What I’ve learned to do when I sit down to work on a shitty first draft is to quiet the voices in my head.
Writing a book isn’t a linear process. You come up with an idea, you think about it, you change it, it changes you, you think some more, you write, you rewrite, you rethink, you write some more. If your book isn’t coming together as quickly as you’d hoped, it’s possible you haven’t set it free […]
Fiction writers know that place can be as important as character. Think: Winterfell Minas Tirith Downton Abbey Gotham City Cabot Cove King’s Landing Hidalgo For some reason, non-fiction writers tend to focus on events and people. However, place is just as important for those of us who write non-fiction as you fiction gurus. In fact, […]
Whether you’ve written no books or fifty, you’re more than “just a writer”. We humans are multi-dimensional beings with facets that reflect both our inner and outer selves. In fact, it’s those very facets that actually make us a writer – without them what would we write? I can get so tunnel-visioned that I forget […]
I spend a lot of time alone but not alone. Cause there’s the cat, the hummingbirds and orioles outside my window, the herbs and flowers on the patio – all bursting with Nature’s own brand of energy. So being alone while I work doesn’t seem so bad. However, the question about being comfortable with silence […]