PerfectDraft

Stop waiting for that “perfect” draft.

I can’t be the only writer who does this. I can’t be the only writer who obsessively reads my own work over and over again to make sure it’s absolutely flawless. I can’t be the only one who gets frustrated (and yet a little relieved) every time I read and edit things, because I always find something to edit. Frustrated because, god DAMN it, it still needs some tweaking, and relieved because thank GOD I found that mistake/clunky sentence/less effective word choice BEFORE I started submitting it to literary agents.

I can’t be the only one, right?

I’m telling you right now, you all need to take a chill pill and let go.

This is still one of the hardest things for me. I am borderline obsessive with my writing (which is one of the reasons my outlines are gigantic). I want everything to be perfect–and in more than making sure my spelling and grammar is spot on. I want everything to be perfect stylistically. I want everything to sound perfect and feel perfect and just be perfect.

I have some bad news for you, my friends–nothing we ever write will ever be perfect.

There are a few reasons behind this.

One, we are continuously improving as we write. That means, the next time you read your book, you will do it wil a little bit more education and a little better “eye” to catch the things you don’t like. By the time you finish one read-through, you’re better than you were when you started. That means, next time around, you’re definitely going to catch things you didn’t catch before.

Two, you, as a human being, are imperfect. You are always going to miss something. It happens to all writers, even those with books on the shelves. There are literally websites dedicated to finding the incongruencies in books. Think about that: that means, not only did the writer miss a mistake, but so did the agent and the editor–and whoever else they had read the book before it went to the press.

Three, your definition of perfection may be very different than someone elses. A lot of why we strive for perfection in our writing is because we want other people to read a perfect work. Sure, we say it’s for us–and in a lot of ways, it is–but the fact of the matter is, we want other people to like what we write. However, you don’t know what another person views as a “perfect book.” You could be looking in all the wrong areas, and fixing all the wrong things.

If you’re waiting to have a perfect draft before you let anyone read it–or before you submit it to a literary agent, you’re going to be waiting for a long time. The world is moving around you, while you’re getting finicky over “grey” and “gray.” (“Grey” is way better, by the way, but in the American system, you need to use “gray.” It’s super depressing.)

Instead of waiting for that perfect draft, make it presentable. Make it well thought-out and well-written. You don’t need to have a book that’s primed and ready to be sent to the press. You need a book that is engaging and exciting, so much so other people want to get it to the press for you.

Good luck with that, though. I know I still have a hard time.

Cheers,
–MC

Categories: Opinions and Rants, Tips and Tricks, Writing

Discussion

  1. I like the new layout.

    I’ve found that rigidly enforcing deadlines (or having someone else hold you to them) helps to get past obsessing over revisions. At a certain point, giving yourself more time just gives you more of an opportunity to ruin something else. It’s like in school, where the fifteen-page essay that took you three days to write is probably just as good as the one you spent a month writing.

    Jared Johnson

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