If I Waited for Perfection

I originally planned to do a half-way point check-in on Day 15, something like “what I’ve learned so far,” but that slid by me in a cranky mess. So here it is: Halfway point musings, a day late.

  1. Sometimes the days you most hate writing are the days you are nearest a breakthrough.
  2. And sometimes the days you most hate writing are the days you most hate writing.
  3. Every day has an hour in it for writing if you make an hour for writing in it. Even if that hour is 11pm or 5am.
  4. Blog entries where I talk about my book seem to be the most popular.
  5. Blog entries where I ask people to help me write my book are the most popular of all.
  6. Titles with the word “boring” in them get read less than anything else. Go figure.
  7. An hour is not anywhere near long enough to get a decent, thoughtful, illustrated blog entry done.
  8. Not every blog entry has to be a decent, thoughtful, illustrated blog entry. Sometimes it’s okay to just be a blog entry.
  9. Halfway points suck. Far enough from the beginning that the new shine has worn off, far enough from the end that you can’t quite see the light yet. And now you know just *exactly* how much work is left and it’s a LOT.
  10. I can do this.
  11. Inspiration doesn’t always come just because you sit down to write. At least, not in just an hour.
  12. My best entries have nearly always taken well more than an hour, and so I don’t think it’s a good idea to always limit myself to an hour. 

What I hope(d) is that I will(would) learn to produce higher quality in an hour by doing this, and maybe I will, but I strongly suspect that TIME is just one of those critical elements necessary to great writing. That and inspiration (see #11), and so forcing the every single day thing may not be a good long-term strategy.

That’s not to say that I think a person who intends to be a writer shouldn’t write every day. FAR from it. Writing every day is EXACTLY what a person does to become a good writer. I wrote my first book simply by deciding to write every day. It never would have happened otherwise.

What I am saying is that maybe it’s not such a good idea to force oneself to write for an hour a day and then hit publish. Or, at least, not for me.

A few years ago, a client asked me to take one of those strengths/weaknesses/personality type tests as part of our working relationship. The result was spot on, and one of the things it said about me is that I’m a slow processor. Which is to say, not a *poor* processor, not *slow* in the old-fashioned “special” sense. Just that I work best when my brain has time to digest things, to season them a bit.

This has always been true and is why (along with the fact that my dad did it and it seemed like a good habit to emulate) I refuse to make on-the-spot decisions. If someone insists that I do something/make a purchase/otherwise act instantly, then my decision is always “no.” I don’t move forward that quickly, because I don’t make my best decisions that quickly.

And I think this is true for my writing as well. I simply don’t do my best writing without time to season and digest.

On the other hand, as an exercise, I think it’s been incredibly helpful. It’s good practice to push things out quickly, it’s like sprints for a long-distance runner. Sprints may not be a runner’s strength, and may not ultimately teach her everything she needs to know, but they certainly can help with building speed and muscle.

So I guess that’s what this is for me. A little sprint training to build speed and muscle. So it’s fine. It’s good. I’m glad I’m doing it.


Gratuitous Selfie: Exhausted Me At the Halfway Point

P.S. Today’s moving sale actually went well. We made quite a lot more than I expected, and I’m feeling considerably less cranky. Though exceedingly tired.

P.P.S. This has been going around Facebook and I LOVE IT. It’s a list of 25 quotes from famous authors that will help you be more fearless in your writing. Some of my favorites: “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better” (Anne Lamott, of course), “Mistakes are the portals of discovery” (James Joyce), and “If I waited for perfection I would never write a word” (Margaret Atwood).


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