21 December, 2011

Emancipated Writing

Writer's Wednesday!!!

A writing professor once gave me a valuable bit of advice to thwart my perfectionist tendencies.

"Good writing is never finished.  It's just abandoned."

No matter how many revisions/drafts you have gone through, there will always be something to change or fix.  If you really want to drive yourself nuts, have three people offer critiques and try to please everyone.  You'll go back and forth so many times, you'll completely forget what the original inspiration was.

I'm reminded of my very brief stint selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door.  Part of the demonstration involved vacuuming an area of someone's home with the new vacuum after already going over the area with the old one.  New vacuum will always show filth not picked up by old vacuum.  Reverse the process... and you get the same result.  Any vacuum can follow behind another and pick up something that was overlooked.

So, don't wait until the work is bulletproof.  It will never be.  No matter how good something is, I promise you at least one out of five people will hate it.  (Getting comfortable with rejection deserves its own post.)

If the perfect novel, song, advertisement, package instructions, or article existed, we wouldn't need any others.  That doesn't mean I suggest trying to sell your first draft.  But, if you start getting into the double-digits on rewrites, you may want to leave it alone.

Let the work speak for itself.  And trust your instincts.  If something intangible tells you to burn all traces of what you've been working on for months, do it.  The wrong thing can be written well.

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