19.1.2016 | 02:47
“Done is better than perfect.”
“The perfect is the enemy of the good.”
“Practice makes progress.”
We’ve heard them all before. They might be clichés, but….
I think it’s safe to say that I put the “pro” in “procrastination.”
I am an expert at this.
There are lots of reasons why so many of us procrastinate.
My Functional Medicine doctor, who is also my chiropractor, let me off the hook: He suggested that the main reason why I procrastinate actually has to do with a neurological imbalance. That’s his area of expertise, so I’m willing to give the idea some credence.
Although sometimes I have to convince myself it’s not a cop-out….
This is purely unscientific, and I think it’s probably been said by many, many others before I came along, but I think I know the main cause of procrastination for most of us:
I know so many people who self-identify as “recovering perfectionists.”
We think perfectionism is some sort of badge of honor, a valuable, positive quality toward which we should strive.
We want all of our work to be the very best it can be.
Several years ago, my professional priority was to succeed as an author and editor.
As the author of three Young Adult fantasy novels – two of which won awards – I can let you in on a little secret:
It’s never going to be perfect.
You can draft it. You can write it. You can re-write it. Again. And again. (And you should. No one is edit-proof. Not even Stephen King – he said so himself, in his non-fiction book about writing.)
An editor will edit your work.
You’ll re-write it again.
This cycle can happen a few times during the pre-publishing process.
Eventually, you review the copy-edited, formatted manuscript one final time, and with any luck you catch a few last-minute errors and the thing goes to press.
You get your final printed copy, and hold it in your hands. (I can’t describe the feeling of holding the first hard copy of your very first book, so I’m not even going to try.)
You open it up and start reading through it – this is your book!! It’s your dream come true.
And then you find something that could have been written better. You find errors in synchronicity or a plot hole no one noticed before….
It’s not perfect.
Most readers will never notice. Some will, but they know nothing is perfect and that authors are human too, and they move on.
Maybe there are some out there who don’t want to read something if it isn’t “perfect,” but I haven’t found any. And I’ve interacted with people who have read my books.
Don’t let the impossible ideal of perfection keep you from doing what you love.
My career as an author and editor never took off.
My book sales never amounted to much.
But I remember one of my writing mentors – whose workshop I attended at a Science-Fiction convention – telling me how proud he was when I actually finished my second book.
I had thought I was going to be a “one-hit wonder.” I had only the vaguest idea for a sequel to my first book.
Until I took that workshop.
That planted a seed.
I went home and wrote five pages a day, every day, for several weeks.
And I had a manuscript.
My mentor said most people never follow through after attending that sort of class. Even if they start the project, most never finish it.
I finished that manuscript, and it turned out to be the easiest thing I ever sat down to write.
(I love them all equally, but just between you and me, that one’s my favorite. It’s also the one that did not win any awards. Go figure.)
Could I have made it even better?
But I love it just the way it is…. Perfectly imperfect.
Don’t waste time trying to live up to some sort of impossible standard of perfection.
Done truly is much, much better than perfect.