Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Probably one of the biggest problems you can have as a writer is a bent toward perfectionism. That sounds wrong, doesn't it? Let me explain.

A perfectionist works and reworks the first sentence (or first chapter) over and over and over again, fiddling with this word and that... meanwhile, the rest of the novel never gets written.

A perfectionist is so invested in those worked and reworked words that he or she cannot let go of them when an editor or critiquer comes along and says, "snip snip."

A perfectionist may have a way more beautiful first chapter than I do, but, honey, I've got a whole book.

So let go of that idea of perfect words. Writing is the ultimate process. Growth is continuous. But you've got to reach a point where you say, "good enough" and let that baby fly. Otherwise you're going to be in the same spot forever. And how boring would that be??

Besides, imperfection doesn't make a thing less beautiful. Just look at the picture above... adds character, right? :)


  1. Oh, you are so wise. Perfectionism can be paralyzing. How come so many of us are perfectionists?

  2. These are words that I needed to hear right now. :)

  3. I've just read a chapter in The Artist's Way on perfectionism. It is such a block to the creative process because it focuses on the finished product. Artists have to let go of the desire for perfection in order to create--you're right. It's about the journey--not the destination!


  4. You and me, too, baby. Those words may not be perfect, but they're on paper, beginning, middle, and end.

    Good post!

  5. Irene,
    Thanks for posting this. I am a compulsive rewriter myself. (Is there a group for this affliction?) I was just thinking today that I should not be complaining about having to read and reread my novel, because as soon as it is in print, I won't dare pick it up again. Would absolutely see something I'd like to change.


Your thoughts?