Thursday, July 10, 2014

Practice Makes Publishable

I've always heard the expression "Practice Makes Perfect," and, being a borderline perfectionist, generally try (and fail) to apply that saying to many aspects of my life.

Over the years, I've had to learn to let that expectation of perfection go. I'm never going to be the perfect wife, or mother, or human being, though I will continue to try my best.

Now, I think I am finally ready to admit that I need to stop trying to apply this to my writing. It's never going to be perfect. Even if my next book hits the NYT Bestseller list and outsells the entire Harry Potter and Twilight series put together....I'm still going to open that book one day and find something I want to change. 

It will never be perfect. And that's okay. It doesn't need to be perfect. It needs to be publishable.

How do I make it publishable? Practice. Writing more and more. Taking my next WIP and the WIP after that and the WIP after that, and pouring my heart, soul, and sweat into them. Hard work, revisions, more hard work, more revisions, confidence, persistence, faith, more hard work, and more revisions.

Very few people sell the first thing they've ever written. A first novel, maybe. But I bet they've written short stories or poetry or essays or something else before. At the very least, they've rewritten that first novel within an inch of its life. I've known people who have let this idea of perfection paralyze them to the point that they refuse to query a wonderful book because they don't think it's ready. They let this unobtainable goal keep them from sharing their incredible stories.

There's no such thing as perfection - especially when it comes to our writing. What one person thinks is perfect, someone else is going to hate. And what we think is perfect now, we may cut without hesitation six months later.

So, should we give up altogether?

NEVAH!!!!! :D

Practice. Keep writing. Shelve it all if you need to, but keep writing. Practice may not make it perfect. But it will make it publishable.

What are your thoughts? Do you practice to make perfect? Do you still hold on to the dream that someday that book of yours will stand as a shining example of literary perfection? Or have you come to the conclusion that something may be excellent, but there's no such thing as perfect? Do you strive for perfection, or for publication? Or something else entirely?


Angelica R. Jackson said...

Oh, I strive for it all right, but I'm a constant fiddler. Even while I'm rattling off my elevator pitch, I'm fighting the urge to edit it as I speak it, lol! I reach a certain point where I have to just declare the work done and not look at it for awhile, or the fiddling will actually begin to make things worse.

Dionna said...

Very nice post, Michelle. I guess we should think of the word perfect to mean "hitting the mark we've aimed for." And if that mark is to tell a great story or create likable characters or to make the reader laugh or cry or feel and we accomplish that objective, then we should be able to say, without shame, that we've created a "perfect" story, even though that story will most certainly contain some flaws.

Michelle McLean said...

That's a great way to look at it! :)

Michelle McLean said...

LOL so am I. I can open any one of my books, to any page, and find at least one thing I'd change :D