So, the other day I was complaining about never being done, even when you think you are. Typos pop up out of nowhere. Words lose their italics or get italicized when they’re not supposed to be. Someone bends over at the “waste”…um, yeah, that happened, even after several rounds of revisions.
Then a funny thing happened. Not “haha” but more like, “a-ha.” After I made that post, I added excerpts to the Purpose website. And because Word adds in all kinds of bogus HTML (if anyone can tell me how to avoid that, I’d love you forever!!), I had to go through the excerpts line-by-line to remove the unnecessary and cluttery tags.
As I’m doing that, a couple phrases pop out at me. And I’m suddenly thinking of a better way to say them. Not able to control myself, I make the changes. Then go back into the Word and PDF docs to make the changes there, too. Now I have an itch to go through the whole book to make sure there aren’t other phrases that could be even better. Because I know there are.
I also went into Promise‘s excerpts and reformatted that page. And it happened again. I didn’t make the changes, though. I wanted to. So very badly. But the book is published and I just need to keep it the way it is. It bugs the crap out of me, though. And this was my a-ha moment.
Actually, I’ve had this conversation with other writers, published and not, so it wasn’t really an “a-ha” moment as it was a reminder. As writers, we (hopefully) are continuously growing, learning and improving our craft. We will always go back and look at something we wrote and have ideas to make it even better. A different word. A more compelling way to phrase something. Perhaps even a whole scene or chapter that could be removed or improved.
No matter how good we thought it was then, at a later time, we see how it can be even better. This will always be true. So at some point, we do have to call the work done. We have to move on to the next step, whatever it is for each of us. Because if we keep trying to make this one perfect, we’ll never get to the next one. And who wants to work on the same story their entire life? Not me. I have too many others I need to get out of my head.
Do you find yourself nit-picking? Is it because the story really isn’t ready? Or is it because you’re being a perfectionist? Or perhaps because you’re procrastinating, afraid of the next step (i.e., querying or the next blank page 1)?