Writing: done is better than perfect.

The hardest part of writing often isn’t putting words on the page. It’s hitting send, submit, publish, or whatever finality is standing in your way.

I have at least 25 articles and essays in progress. I have scraps of poems waiting for me to finish. Oh, and there’s a blog that I’ve started and quit a handful of times. Add to that, of course, the first draft of four partial books that are in some degree of incompletion. 

I love writing, yet I have a hard time finishing writing projects. I get distracted. A new idea pops up, and I run with it. Or, I start writing something, run out of ideas, get bored, and look for something else to write. 

Plus, it’s fun to start new things. But finishing them? Well, not so much. It feels good to finish them, no doubt, but it takes work and effort to get there.

I’ve tried setting deadlines. Sometimes they work. Other times? Not so much. (Writers need deadlines. It might be the most important thing. Ever.)

Is it fear of commitment? Fear of finishing things? It could be a lack of discipline — that’s possible. Maybe it goes deeper than that — fear of rejection, or worse, fear of my words falling into obscurity. Heck, it could be old-fashioned procrastination. I’m an expert at that. Whatever it is, I want to be able to finish more writing projects.

It comes down to two things:

  1. I don’t know what to do with my writing once it’s finished.
  2. Once it’s finished, I feel like I can’t make any changes. It’s final. I’d be “stuck” with whatever I wrote, and with the lingering feeling that I could have done better.

I’ve finally had to convince myself that “done” is better than “perfect.” (No, I’m not the first person to say this, but it can be good advice.) It’s a tough life-lesson. I have to tell myself it every day — and not only with my writing.

It doesn’t mean that you should skid-by and make the least possible effort. It means you need to know what the finish line looks like. And, break down challenges into smaller and incremental steps so you can get there. It also permits you to say, “good enough is good enough.”

It’s ironic. Sometimes when you’re in a race or at an event, the start and finish line are in the same location. When you start, you’re already at the finish line. Your only task is to complete the race and come right back where you started. It’s a simple concept, but it can be challenging to grasp.

I didn’t spend hours or days on this writing project. (Hopefully, that’s not too obvious, even with my illustrations!) I got in and got out. It felt good to finish something! I didn’t procrastinate or let myself wander off into a different writing project. I stayed on track and got it done. And, more often than not, done is better than perfect.

An article by Jason S. Sullivan, 06-05-20

2 thoughts on “Writing: done is better than perfect.

  1. This rings so true for everything else in life too. It’s the reason why I actually completed my first novel. Why I exercise every day (even though they’re not real intense routines). Why I don’t mind publishing blog posts I think are crap.

    Because the action is actually way more valuable than overthinking. And I learn much more too.

    Thanks for this great reminder, Jason!


    1. Hi Stuart – thanks for your comment! I agree, action is definitely more valuable than overthinking. Good point!


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