Do you suffer from writing perfectionism?
Do you stay on a chapter or a paragraph for days, weeks, or even months until that first draft is “perfect”?
Well to be fair I think we all find ourselves doing this to some extent.
In today’s post, I’ll teach you why it’s important to keep moving on in your first draft and how doing so will benefit your time, overall story, and sanity in the long run. Okay first things first. I think it’s clear you want your book to be the best out there in terms of clarity, entertainment, as well as being well written. Am I right?
But how long is “long enough” to write, rewrite, correct, change, fix, or modify your writing before it becomes ready to be published or sent to professional editors?
The truth is there is no magic number that is right for how many drafts it’ll take for a book or story to be “perfect”. Eventually, you must finish and show your work to the world or give it to a professional editor to help you take your work to the next level.
The goal is to finish. The goal has always been to finish, but the problem lies if you are stuck on making that first draft perfect the first time you write it because, more likely than not, you’re going to have to change something again later on anyway.
Let me explain.
The problem: when you correct your words, sentences, phrases, etc while you are still in the first draft stage all of your work is still at risk of being changed again when you start your second draft.
What if while writing you decide to change a character’s goal or motivation? That’s an important detail in a book and if you change your mind you may find yourself having to start over with a blank page.
Yes, planning and outlining helps to prevent this but somethings you don’t realize until you’ve actually started writing the words. You may come up with an even better idea for something. Then what?
All your perfectly polished words from before would have to be erased for words that fits with your new idea.
That is why time is wasted perfecting a first draft while writing without finishing the book first. Once you have your book done from start to finish you can see the story in all its glory or non-glory and make any big or small changes without worrying too much about grammar and punctuation.
This will save you TIME.
The solution: Create an outline for your book before you even get started writing. If you’ve already started writing the first draft, stop and create your outline so you know how your book is going to play out in words.
It may seem to make sense in your head but just like math sometimes things can be a lot more clear when it’s written in words and you can see your words and ideas in front of you.
If you need help creating an outline please check out this post How To Outline a Novel
Once you have your outline finished going through the first draft should become a lot easier. However, it’ll only be fast if you focus on getting the words done, and worry about editing those words once you have everything you planned on working with.
You can’t edit a blank page.
Once the first draft has been written you are free to focus completely on editing and changing without the annoyance of deleting well-polished and perfectly spelled words.
But don’t get caught up in perfection in the editing stage either. Some authors take months even years not putting out something because they struggle with perfection.
I sometimes do too. I change my mind on scenes, chapters, even characters names WHILE writing and it sucks because I feel like I’ll have to start over in the changes are too big to work around.
But that’s okay. Writing and rewriting is what being a good writer is all about. It’s when we never publish lies the problem.
Nothing in life is perfect. Not me. Not you and not your book. Someone, somewhere is not going to like your book no matter how hard you work on it. Readers have different tastes and some of your work will connect with them while some won’t. And that’s okay.
When you let your stress go of having it perfect, you’ll find yourself writing more, editing better and putting out work faster because of the time you’ve saved.
Do your best to edit. Give it to professional but don’t keep revising forever just because it “needs one more run through”. You have to take a chance and see what people think of your work or else you would never ever know.
Besides what if you change something you thought was bad that was really actually good?
Hope you’ve found this helpful. Please share with someone you know who’s new to writing.
How do you overcome your writing struggles of being perfect? Let me know below.