I’ve discovered that I have a perfectionist/procrastinator cycle. It’s vicious. I’ve always known this but never had it in context. I think a LOT about my characters, plot, the actual story of what I’m writing, and how I want it to end, the journey I want the characters to take and what I want them to learn, unlearn, or reflect on for example. And then I think about all of that a LOT MORE. Eventually, I eek out a graph or two or 10, but before that, I’m hard pressed to make it perfect in my mind, so therefore, I’m paralyzed to write anything until I feel it’s perfect. I don’t mean “perfect enough”. I mean perfect.
The worst part is the pressure to be perfect, the pressure I put on myself. Equally worse, I miss out on the raw, fabulous writing I’m sometimes lucky to write that turns into what I call a gem of a story.
So, since about a week or so ago, I haven’t published anything here. I’ve written, have lots of drafts, but they just weren’t perfect. I’m considering publishing them just as they are.
I don’t know why any beginning writer thinks that writing is easy. Writing is work. Hard work. It’s fun, and it’s my life.
Sometimes, though, I sit in the muck of my perfectionism, regurgitating in my mind what isn’t perfect, then cycling back to procrastination, and then there we go again back to perfectionism.
Truly vicious circle.
And yet, I keep writing. I must. I fear my hands, my fingers can’t tap across the keys fast enough to keep up with my thoughts, but I keep trudging through, hoping to get this one done, knowing there will be another, and another.
My mentor told me that James Salter sometimes writes 70+ drafts for each of his stories. Unfortunately, the drafts in my mind don’t truly count. It’s what’s on the paper that does. And I get to it, sometimes kicking and screaming, because preemptively, I know it won’t be perfect. Because I know that nothing is.