Perfect is not Possible

Hate to break it to you but no draft is perfect. Ever.

Yeah, I said it.

Perfect is not possible.

As writers we strive to be, don’t we?

But it’s a myth.

Our narratives build worlds and characters flecked with pieces of ourselves. As we write, our hearts have soared with our character’s triumphs and wilted in their defeats. We live and die in those moments as we should. If we aren’t emotionally invested in what we write, then it’ll never resonate the way we want it to with our readers.

However, there is an important point in the creative process that needs to be addressed. In the course of creating, we cannot allow ourselves to be swallowed by the myth. If we do, if we succumb to the notion that somewhere in the sea of words, there is perfection, then we will never finish the manuscript. We will forever seek the perfect word or turn of phrase or witty banter and we will smother the flickering flame of what made our story truly shine.

In the process of finding the perfect word we can choke the life out of a perfectly good manuscript.

Now, I’m not saying don’t edit. We all need to edit (and love every minute of it, right?) but what I’m suggesting is instead making five hundred editing passes on the same manuscript let it go at five. I’m sure that might’ve send some of you screaming for the exit doors and that’s okay. We all have method to our madness and if yours is to edit it five hundred times then go for it. I think the manuscript will suffer for it though.

Just get the words down and finish the draft. Messy or not. Get it down.

I know some authors who agonize over every word. Some are great writers but they get mired in perfection and lose sight of what made the story great in the first place. In many cases, they can’t even finish the book they started. The one which had so much promise. That’s because they’ve choked the life out of it.

Get the words down. Let the story breathe. Let it be a little messy. Live is messy. Our characters shouldn’t be perfect either. Let the characters live and die on the page as they’re supposed to do. And somewhere in the course of all that, believe it or not, perfection will live and the story will thrive.

Always remember to write ON!

The Magic Bullet

What is the magic bullet? Haven’t you heard? It’s the super-secret way all successful authors have to get published. You learn about the magic bullet the same day the SAC teaches you the secret handshake. What’s the SAC? Well, it’s the Secret Authors Coalition of course. If you don’t know about the secret handshake or the magic bullet, you obviously are not a successful author.

Yes, I’m kidding. Don’t go Googling ‘magic bullet’ and ‘SAC’. I cannot promise the search results that might come back if you do.

It would be nice if there was an SAC and a magic bullet, wouldn’t it? I mean, if everybody could have that knowledge then every author out there would be successful, wracking up the publishing credits and becoming a best-selling author, right?

Right.

The only problem is there is no magic bullet, no super-secret handshake, and no SAC.

But hold on. There is still hope. Don’t go running off to cry in the corner.

If you are a new author who is finally ready to begin submitting work and hoping to get that precious first publishing credit, you might feel like you’re navigating a dark warehouse with just your cell phone for a flashlight. It doesn’t illuminate much and your progress is slow. You keep bumping into things you can’t see and getting frustrated. It is a learning experience like no other and no instruction manual to go with it.

The good news is, even without a guidebook, anyone can be successful as a writer. Every writer has a different concept of success. Some, merely want to finish a story or their first book while others want to have their story published online or in print. For some, success is selling their first short story and getting their first royalty check. And still, other writers want to make a living putting words down on paper. The writer needs to define their version of success.

When writers get brave enough to start submitting their work, all the anxiety they’ve kept in check while shaping the story and getting it ready escapes. Is my writing good enough to be published? Will anyone want to read my story?

All of those are valid questions. Writers can spend hours upon hours poring over their work trying to make it perfect before sending it out. Well, I have news for you, it never will be perfect. There are always improvements that can be made. I know some writers who struggle so much with making it perfect, they choke the life out of the piece. Sometimes, it is better to give it legs before it gets killed during editing. There are no perfect drafts, there are merely finished drafts with hope.

So, I have a confession to make. I lied when I said there is no magic bullet.

What is it?

You’re probably not going to like the answer. The magic bullet is simply hard work coupled with never giving up. Keep writing. Keep improving. Keep submitting. You will learn as you go and the lessons you learn will guide you, the cell phone flashlight growing stronger, the darkness of the warehouse slowly dissipating. The publishing doors will open eventually and when they do you can feel the joy of having a first publishing credit.

And then the second.

And the third.

You get the idea.

Don’t get discouraged.

We are all in this together.

Stop reading this stupid blog post and get back to writing.

And always remember to write ON!