As it goes with anything in life, if you decide to wait for perfection, you’ll be waiting for a very long time. AKA, forever. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t have that kind of time.
As writers, or artists in general, we all too often find ourselves stuck in the repetition of trying to achieve perfection. Whether we’re passively waiting for inspiration to strike and the dots to connect, or we’re actively forcing the square peg in the round hole, we try to make something happen that simply cannot be. It’s not for lack of talent or dedication. It’s for lack of possibility.
Yes, I said it. Perfection is impossible.
It’s not that the bar is set too high, it’s that there is no bar at all.
For those of you who aren’t aware, I’m in graduate school for English and Creative Writing (go Penmen!). I have this complex where I have to get all A’s and be the teacher’s pet because for some reason I equate that with success. Don’t get me wrong, those things aren’t bad, but they aren’t the most important thing. Just like perfection isn’t the most important thing. In fact, it’s not a thing at all. It’s a figment. A figment of your imagination, of society’s expectations, whatever you want to call it.
I’ve been learning lately that the most important thing I should be striving for is not perfection, but betterment. Not the act of being better than someone else, but being better than what I was before, in a healthy way, of course.
I think it’s fair to say that as a writer, when I revise something I want it to be better than the previous draft. That’s not too much to ask. It’s not perfect. It will never be perfect. But it can be better.
So rather than wait for perfection, or try to force perfection on your work, just try to be better. Tighten up the plot, deepen the characters, explore the setting. Look for the holes in your work and strive to fill them up (side note, honest and loving friends are handy here).
Don’t be like those people. Be yourself. Be imperfect.
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