On Finding Perfection in Writing

perfectionHey all! I went from being behind on Camp NaNoWriMo to being ON TRACK. Like massively behind. It’s been an intense writing week. I hope this momentum keeps up! I’m making good progress on the serial outlines, one of them is completely outlined, another is started. I have good ideas for the novel ones as well. If all goes well, I should be announcing the ideas on my Patreon some time in early August.

And I’ve started working on short stories for submitting to literary magazines. I think I’m ready to put myself out there again, even if it’s a bit frightening. It’ll be a good learning experience no matter what.

Anyway, today’s blog is on perfection and how it relates to writing. And how I feel about the idea of perfection in writing. Last night, or rather this morning, I tweeted: A lot of writers wait around for that perfect idea, that perfect plot. But that perfection isn’t real. Just start writing. #amwriting.

And I’m still standing by that.

but LL, don’t you want to show your best work?

Of course! I always try to get my best work out there, whether that means in blog posts, novels, RP posts, drabbles, short stories…etc. Giving my best effort and displaying work I can be proud of is something that is very important to me. One of the things I realized very early on in my writing classes in college was that my writing is not perfect. I am not perfect, therefore my writing cannot be perfect.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not giving my best effort or trying to show something that I can be proud of.

But this isn’t really about displaying my best work. This is more about the whole process of starting a project.

but what do you mean?

I’ve noticed that a lot of writers are waiting around for the perfect story idea to smack them in the face. They don’t even start writing until the idea is 100% perfected and original and shiny. But stories aren’t 100% perfect ever.

A perfect story would be incredibly boring. Why?

Because perfection is boring. Think about what traits make the characters you like interesting. Think about those characters good and hard for a few minutes. Are those characters flawed? Yes. Are they perfect? No. Why? Because perfect characters are boring. You’ll know how they react when put into situations.

If you keep waiting for that perfect story idea, you’ll be waiting around for a long time. Each time an idea comes to you, you’ll find yourself dismissing it because it isn’t good enough, not original enough.

Just write it.

but why write it if it isn’t going to be amazing?

Well, you don’t know how it’s going to turn out until you start working on it, right? There’s only so much you can do in terms of preparatory work. You can world build, design your characters, outline your story. But those are just the skeleton of the story, the base. You need to add the rest of the body. You need to write.

Sometimes you need to take that leap and see where that story will take you. Sometimes you have to let go of worrying about not being good enough. You have to let go of comparing yourself to others.

I understand that the fear of failure can really crush down the want to try something like writing.

Did you know that not near everything I write sees the light of day? I still finish (or try to finish) the projects, though. They’re a learning experience. They’re another idea that I can come back to later and try to improve.

The best you can hope for is putting your best work forward.

wanting to do your best =/= perfection

Writing is a hobby/career/passion that is driven by improvement. There is always something that can be worked on. You are always chasing after a new goal whether it’s improving characterization, cementing point of view, or adding a few more plot twists to a story. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of something being perfect.

It’s easy to see other peoples’ work and want to achieve that level of writing. That level of skill. It’s easy to view someone else’s work as perfection.

One of the first steps in writing is accepting that you won’t be producing perfection. You can only focus on producing your best work. And over time, your best work will change. It will grow with you as you grow as a writer. Maybe it will get close to perfection.

Just remember that imperfections are what make things interesting. Imperfect characters are considered the best. Japan has the practice of Kintsugi, which is repairing ceramics with gold. The imperfections make the ceramic piece more beautiful.

In conclusion…

 

I’m going to sum this up with: just start writing. Write the story, get it out there. Focus on improving it through revision, beta-reading, and editing once you’ve completed the first draft.

And try to focus on improvement and putting out your best work rather than chasing perfection.

Happy writing!
~LL

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