Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pursuit of Perfection

Hello there, my fellow insecure writers.

I didn't know what to write about today. I had a post in mind but I deemed it too whiny. At least for today. So I went searching for another topic.

And I found it in the Conway Daily Sun in the form of my horoscope. I find them often to be eerily accurate. I don't know where they come from but, more often than not, I open up the paper and get hit by a mack truck of truth. It's kind of disturbing, truth be told.

Anyway, here's what the mack truck had to offer today:

Your tendency toward perfectionism will be prominent. You'll find that it's not enough to do a fine job. You'll keep going with the job until you reach the stellar result to which you are accustomed.

I think this is a common problem with writers. The pursuit of perfection. Right? Or am I the only one who writes and rewrites and then rewrites some more just for good measure? Please tell me I'm not the only one. I only kind of care that it's true...

So my question, for any of you who have figured it out, is how do you know when enough's enough? How do you know when you're done? I mean, I thought I was done with Effigy and then just last week I strapped some figurative C4 to it and pressed the button because it just wasn't good enough. Now I'm picking plot points out of my hair while scrubbing character development out of the rug and thinking, "gee, maybe I shouldn't have done that."

But since it's done, I'm going to fix it because that's what I do. And because it's impossible to ignore that much non figurative highlighter and red pen. So although I am once again a while away from being 'done', I am still curious to know what it's like.

Tell me wonderful stories about it, would ya?


  1. I hear ya. I've rewritten so much I can't get past the words on the page anymore, which makes me real happy I have critique parters to tell me if I have crap on paper. Happy writing! :)

  2. I'm exactly the same. I tend to rewrite the beginnings of everything, or scrap it rewrite everything from scratch if I start off on the wrong foot. I need to break through that barrier and actually finish something for once, hehe.

  3. It takes a lot of cahones to blow up your manuscript like that. I know that I wouldn't want to do it but I have done it before. The results were mixed. Best of luck with the rewrite and I'm cheering you on.

  4. This is why I've never got far with novels. The stuff I write tends, of necessity, to have hard deadlines or it wouldn't happen at all. So that means scripts and game scenarios with a definite "it's being used on THIS DATE" attached to them.

    I re-write a lot. I need deadlines. Belonging too other people.

  5. Urk. "Belonging *to* other people." I need to hoover my keyboard and my brain.

  6. No, you're not the only one who rewrites and rewrites. I've learned to give it up on a first draft, but it pokes at me. lol I've done at least 7 revisions on my first novel and still have at least one more to go.

  7. I'm a perfectionist and it's difficult to stop rewriting and fixing. I figure once I start changing things back to their original form, I'm done.

  8. This is why it's a good idea to have more than iron in the fire. If you're only working on one piece, you're going to keep messing with it till you can't tell up or down anymore. I finished a MS a couple of weeks ago, need to give it a couple more weeks till I'm really ready to edit. Started and it was soon clear I wasn't there. So, blogging, short stories, catching up on reading - writers always have other homework. :-)

  9. I am always rewriting, and sometimes I have to physically separate myself from the manuscript before I make it worse.

  10. If you ever find the answer to that, please let us know.

    Unfortunately - yes I say it like that - I have always been a perfectionist - in everything. It can put a lot of pressure on a person. After 42 years, I'm finally learning to overcome it.

    And then I took up a new career as a writer... Oh well :)

  11. I wish I could figure that out!
    I am always re-writing, editing - that is why everything takes forever!
    Someone once said "you are done when you would not change a single word."
    In that case, I will never be done. Almost perfect has to be good enough.
    Good luck!

  12. I'm fresh out of wonderful stories. Deadlines tend to help force my hand with publishing, albeit an article or a blog post or a meeting with my writers group. If I didn't, I would never share my writing.

  13. Oh I know exactly what you are talking about. I can rewrite and self-edit myself into oblivion. I wish I could figure out a way to get out this horrible self-destructive habit, but I haven't. Virtual hugs from a fellow perfectionist. :)

  14. Unfortunately, I"m in the camp of you can almost never do too much to your novel.

    I used to think you could. But you have to let the story go, and read it with fresh eyes for just the story. Then you have to take each page at a time and pretend it's the only thing going out into the world.
    You have to make sure you're not cheating.
    ex. "she felt sad"
    SHOW, not tell.

    It's HARD. my first novel has been through three major rewrites, MULTIPLE readers, and it's shelved, because I really need to just rewrite the whole thing.

  15. I always say just write the first draft. You can write with mistakes in it. Who cares? Just get all those jumbled thoughts out of your head. Fix it later and you'll probably rewrite the darned thing over at least twenty times.

    Have a great day!

  16. I definitely don't have an answer for that. The pursuit of perfection is totally my problem too!