Perfectionism: An Excuse for Writers Who Don’t Write

You may not consider yourself a perfectionist nor would you lump your writing into any category of art that would be determined to be done by a perfectionist, but I see it used as an excuse for so many writers and other artists alike. I use this definition only a little looser than the dictionary would describe it, but I think it hits the nail on the proverbial head.

I found a post the other day in a Facebook writers group which spoke this truth. Long story short, it’s one person asking why someone doesn’t write when they have great characters and story arcs and an argument ensues when the person responds saying they don’t know what they’d write when they got to the middle. The first person yells at the writer saying that the writer needs to stop being scared that the story won’t adequately reflect the perfect image of the story in the writer’s head and to stop using this excuse as a crutch for not writing.

It’s so painfully true that so many writers will allow themselves to be stuck in a revolving door of not writing for fear that what they write won’t be perfect. Let me save you the suspense, it will not be perfect, and even if it is, you won’t know until you sit down and write it. Quit being fearful of not being perfect. In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Don’t be afraid to fail. In everything I’ve ever done, I was always willing to fail.” If you aren’t willing to fail, you’ll never sit down to write your story because it might not turn out exactly how you want it to. You can edit a shitty page but you cannot edit a blank one.

I constantly fear that my novel will not read like the story I have pictured in my head but until I write the damn thing, I’ll never know. Artists fail all the time. People make shitty art and people write shitty books, but at least they stepped into the batter’s box. Who knows, a publisher might like your piece of shit and before you know it your story is like 50 Shades of Grey, starting out as Twilight fan fiction before becoming a bestseller and having multiple movies. Yeah, 50 Shades was originally Twilight fan fiction, let that sink in.

Plenty of horribly written and terribly constructed books get published and even make bestseller lists. It’s better to be lucky than good in some instances. After writing my first novel and attempting to have it published and failing, I thought it was a lost cause and I simply sucked at writing. Then, I took a chance with submitting it to a small publishing firm and now I’ve signed with that publishing firm and am waiting for the final edit process to be completed before my title gets republished through them. You never know how close you are to finally getting that deal you’ve always dreamed about. You need to keep writing and not let that doubting self-loathing editor in your head get the better of you.

Stay consistent. Write every day. Build upon your skills and get so good that people can no longer pretend not to notice you. Be prolific. Write as many books and stories as you can. Like many musicians and other artists today, it only takes one hit to become a household name. Finish your draft and then edit the shit out of it. Turn your signature into an autograph.


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