Setting Self Doubt on Fire: The doomed quest for perfection
Hi everyone! I’m back again, here to share some words of wisdom, or so I hope. Today, I have a topic for you that I’m sure many of you have struggled to deal with many times before. As you can see from the title, I’m going to be discussing the risk of looking for perfection.
When faced with the prospect of rejection, we can often find ourselves desperate to avoid any chances of this happening by aiming to create the perfect manuscript. We do this by painstakingly checking our grammar, spelling, format, style, plot etc. in the hopes to create something flawless. However, by aiming for such an unattainable goal not only can you waste too much time, you can also lose faith in your abilities. Now when you are already dealing with self-doubt the last thing any of us need is something else to make us doubt ourselves further.
So to help you understand why fighting for perfection is a doomed quest, I’ve listed five points for you to consider:
- Stops you submitting: So many times I’ve missed story submission deadline because the story wasn’t perfect enough to submit, and every time I do this I beat myself up over the missed opportunity. Sure, there might have been a misplaced comma, but who knows the editors might have liked it enough to overlook this. Sometimes you just have to go for it, take the risk, and see what happens.
- Makes you focus solely on the negative: To perfect your manuscript you must hunt for any mistakes or flaws, now while this isn’t a bad thing (this is why we do the editing process after all), constantly concentrating on the flaws can make you blind when it comes to the positives, and it’s the positives that matter the most.
- You over edit: I’ve often found that my stories have been so over edited that it no longer holds the sparkle that it once had. It resembles a show home, lacking in personality rather than something that might be rough around the edges but still grabs your full attention. Edit as much as you need to, not as much as you want to.
- Lose confidence: This links with point two, if you only see the negatives you will lose faith in your skills as a writer, and self-belief is important if you’re on this journey.
- End up hating your story: This is another one I’ve experienced, this point links everything together, you convince yourself so much that your work needs to be perfect, so when it isn’t you will feel nothing but disappointment rather than the pride you should feel for making the time to sit and write the story.
To help you find ways to avoid the hunt for perfection, I’ve listed another five points for you to consider:
- Focus on what’s important: As long as a story has an exciting plot and strong characters that readers care about it doesn’t matter if you put one comma in the wrong place. By producing a strong story you can be forgiven for any minor flaws.
- Remind yourself that perfection doesn’t exist: It’s true, it doesn’t, and we spend so much time in our lives aiming to be perfect whether that is the way we look, our careers, roles in the family. However, there is no such thing, nothings perfect, if you look closely enough, you’ll see that everything has something wrong with it.
- Remember, you’re human, you will make mistakes: You will make a mistake, it happens, it doesn’t make you a rubbish writer. So instead of beating yourself up over a typo (as long as you don’t have too many), accept that all you can do is your best, and as time goes by you will get better.
- Set a limit on how many times you edit: If you are like me, you can edit too much, which causes the issue that I mentioned above, so to defeat that you can set a limit on the amount of times you edit your story. Once you hit that limit, then you better leave the story alone and submit, and only after a certain amount of rejections, or if you get some constructive criticism, should you do another edit.
- Get some feedback: Sometimes you can get so blinded by your quest for perfection that you can’t see the true beauty of your story, and this is where getting someone to read your story for you helps. If your chosen reader comes back saying they were gripped by your story, enjoyed it and yearned for more, then leave that delete button alone and submit that story. However, if they notice nothing but mistakes, then you need to do another edit.
That’s all I have for you today. Let us all forget about being perfect, instead focus on being the greatest writer you can be, and join me as we take another step closer to beating Mr Self Doubt.
To end this post, here is another inspirational quote: