Re-blogged as an excerpt from Kristen Lamb's Blog - a fount of useful information for writers making a career.
We writers have to be really really careful about worshipping perfection, and I think fiction can be far more vulnerable because it is far more subjective. There comes a time when we simply have to SHIP. Just let it go. Time to move on to something new. We could edit forever. This applies to blogs, books, query letters and eyeliner.
The world does not reward perfect books, it rewards finished books.
Maybe it is time to let go of that first novel you’ve been working on for the last
Very often, our first novel is a learning curve. Just like children develop fine writing muscles, we do too.
The first novel is our first attempt to do something most mere mortals can’t. Can we sit and finish a work spanning 60,000-100,000 words?
Or, in my case? 178,000 words.
Gimme a break! I was NEW! :P
Yes, I was that writer. The one the agents talk about? It’s me. I am the “Alligator-in-the-Sewer” of the publishing world. I am real. I really queried a 178,000 word novel that was all genres and written for everyone to love and that would make an awesome movie and I already had started the screenplay. Did I mention merchandising?
But what I didn’t understand was that novel wasn’t meant to be queried or even published. It had already served its purpose and it took me a long time and way too many fruitless revisions to understand that. One of the best lessons I have learned in my career is to simply let go.
Shop it, ship it, or kill it but move forward.
Write the first book and move on. Write another and another. Sure, the first one might suck, but each one will suck a little less. We learn by doing. Writers only improve by writing MORE.
Perfect is the enemy of the good.
If we hope to be successful at this writing thing, we must master two diametrically opposite skills—latching on and letting go. We can’t finish if we don’t sink in our claws, but we also can’t finish if we fail to ever let go.
Virtually every long-term successful author didn’t make it with ONE novel. We make a good living at writing by writing MANY novels. But, if we don’t get good at shipping? Odds are we will never be able to write full-time. So breathe and just move forward. It gets easier.
What are your thoughts? Do you find yourself too concerned with being perfect? Do you think you allow perfectionism to feed you procrastination? Are you still trying to “fix” that first novel and haven’t let go? Do you have trouble moving forward?
Excerpt from Kristen Lamb’s blog. You can read the whole post here.