Saturday, February 11, 2017

The (Irritating) Pursuit of Perfection

Scott D. Parker

“We the Writers, in order to form a more perfect manuscript…

Aren’t you glad there’s no Constitution for writing? More to the point, aren’t you glad there’s not a preamble with a phrase like that, huh?

This week, I ran into the brick wall that is the sometimes insatiable desire to be perfect when we write, especially first drafts. I’m trying something unique this month with my current novel: I’m 98% pantsing this story. I have only a vague idea of what’s gonna happen and how it ends. Surprisingly, I’m finding it rather liberating, except for Wednesday. During that morning’s writing session, I didn’t have a clue as what to write. Oh, I kept going and I found my way, but it was a slog. It was one of the few times where I really felt the 4:30am wake up time. To compensate, I just drank more coffee.

And kept writing.

You see, the more I typed, the more I wrote. The more I wrote, the more I allowed my creative voice to take over. The more the creative voice took over, the more the story—in the form of that particular chapter—worked itself out. By the time my 5:30am alarm went off—signaling my hard stop as I have to get ready for work—I wanted to keep going.

I realized later that what was holding me back was the unconscious desire to make the prose perfect. This is a first draft, after all. Since I’m pantsing this novel, I am telling myself the story. How in the world am I supposed to craft something perfect when I don’t even know how it all turns out. That’s for later drafts and edits. First, how the heck does my hero get out of this chapter? I threw in a bandit with a gun and the action started up again.

Do you ever get slapped with the desire for perfection? I know I do. It’s a difficult beast to overcome.
Two blog posts this week helped me work through this irritating trait we writers have.

One is by Dean Wesley Smith.

The other is by Dana King.

Both are worth your time as you’ll likely get something out of each that you can add to your mental toolbox.

BTW, Have you ever wondered what a Bruce Springsteen song written for the first Harry Potter movie sounds like? I never even knew this was a thing. The always excellent Ultimate Classic Rock dropped this little ditty yesterday. It definitely didn't fit the film, but upon hearing it three consecutive times, I quite like “I’ll Stand by You Always.”

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