Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Quality vs. Perfection #IWSG



Welcome, Insecure Writer's Support Group peeps! If you aren't yet a part of this awesomely supportive group, clicky clicky here and sign up!

This month I'm insecure about perfection. Tell me if this sounds familiar: before you send your manuscript off to your critique partners, beta readers, an agent, or an editor, you read and re-read it, knowing it's still not perfect.

Super Supportive Hubby recently teased me about this. He knows I'll never reach that point when I feel my books are good enough...perfect.

In my head, I know perfection isn't possible. But that doesn't keep me from striving for it. Especially now that I've decided to self publish. The good and the bad of the book will reflect directly on me. Oh, the pressure!

Super Supportive Hubby recently said, "At some point, you have to let this one go and move on to the next book." Dang. For a non-writer, he sure gives great writing advice.

Still, in my effort to make my books the best they can be, I continue to learn. I'm reading Writing the Breakout Novel, and will soon read The Fire in Fiction, both by Donald Maass. There's so much I don't know, and I soak up each bit of wisdom.

Readers deserve the very best we can give them--quality books at a fair price. I've never expected perfection from my favorite authors (although some of them came super close), but I do expect quality.

As writers, we can learn and grow and dig deeper. We can read and study and try new things. We can proofread our work, make major plot changes, or tweak sentence structure and grammar. In the end, we must take Super Supportive Hubby's advice and let this one go.

We can't deliver perfection, but we can deliver quality.

Check out these cool quotes about perfection:

Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing. -- Harriet Braiker


A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault. -- John Henry Newman

To escape criticism - do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard

Do you battle with perfectionism when it comes to your writing? Do you struggle with letting your manuscript go? How do you ensure quality for your readers? Please share!

35 comments:

  1. I guess that's part of the thrill of Indie publishing - it's all on us. But I've also learned that even without perfection, a book will do how it's going to do in the market, no matter if we spent that extra day tweaking sentences or not. so I agree, at some point, after we've done our best, we have to move on. :)

    Easier said than done, right?

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    1. Laura, totally easier said than done! At least with indie you tweak later if you want or need :)

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  2. Awesome. Yes, I know I totally need to join the insecure writers. I've known it since its conception, but I'm still hesitating on the sidelines. Crazy.

    Well said. My hubby tells me the same thing all the time. "Just get it out there. You have so many awesome stories, you'll never get them all out if you don't go forward." *sigh* These men, eh?

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    1. Crystal, I love the idea that we'll never get them all out there if we don't let our babies go at some point. Your hubby gives great advice, too!

      Congratulations on the awesome book cover reveal <3

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  3. Yup, the story needs to be flawless in terms of grammar and syntax, but also high quality in terms of big stakes, the Big Question, and unique characters. A tall order, indeed, but possible!

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    1. Yes, a tall order! Now I'm nervous all over again *bites nails*

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  4. I am definitely a perfectionist, which, by the way, is technically a sin. I am my worst enemy.

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  5. For me, I had to adjust my perception of what perfection was in terms of my own writing. I realized one day that what I really wanted wasn't the perfect story, but simply for readers to experience the story as I intended. I had to learn to make them feel, with my words, the things I felt in my head as I imagined the story.

    My problem was that I wasn't exactly sure of how to do that. So I kept trying until readers finally started saying, "That was cool!", "That was scary!", "That was funny!", etc. in most of the right places. :)

    Not perfection, but it was ultimately what I'd hoped I'd get out of writing. So when a story takes the reader where I'd intended (and maybe beyond), that's when I know I need to shove it out the door.

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    1. EJ, that is BRILLIANT! What a great way of looking at things. I'm going to remember this comment the next time I want to slap myself.

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  6. I absolutely struggle with perfection. You're right that quality is what we should strive for. Quality and excellence. Not perfection. It can't exist in writing (or any kind of art) because it's so subjective.

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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    1. So true, Laura. I wonder how many artists have gone crazy trying? Or were afraid to try, knowing their work would never be perfect?

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  7. Oh yes, I love this. I'm definitely a perfectionist, and can pick something apart into infinity. Great advice here. We are all human, and if we make a few tweaky mistakes, then so be it. Gotta try not to flog myself unnecessarily (but still striving for good quality).

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    1. Carol, I keep thinking ahead to when the book is out, hoping and praying that I didn't miss something. But even books with big houses have errors in them. No one is perfect!

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  8. I so know what you mean. You can always do something to improve your manuscript, but at some point you have to say "enough!"

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    1. Exactly! Now...the tricky part...how do we know when we've reached that point? Maybe when all we're doing is tweaking??

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  9. Yes, I am definitely a perfectionist. It's difficult to finally stop and say it's the best I can do. But that's all we can give - the best we can do.

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    1. So true, Alex. And then we have the opportunity to do better with each book.

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  10. Here's to Super Supportive Hubby! You are very lucky.

    Great to be back after my break. Missed everyone!

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  11. I read read and read some more in my eagerness to learn but then, sometimes it backfires and I have to take a break from all the how-to books, or else I just start to be hyper vigilant and afraid to even try! Funny, huh.

    I can edit and tweak even a blog post to death before I send it out there and then always manage to still find a wording I didn't like or a typo or misplaced comma (especially those).

    Keeps us in check too, I guess. Great post :)

    Julie Luek
    A Thought Grows
    Co-host IWSG October

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    1. Julie, thanks for co-hosting this month!

      I'm the same way about blog posts, too. At least our blogger buddies aren't too hard on us if we goof :)

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  12. I strive to improve with each book I write. I don't even think about perfection but do try to get better so that someday I might get close to that excellence goal. Great quotes.

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    1. Susan, that's a great way to approach it: get better with each book!

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  13. I struggle with perfection in that I wish I was there!!!! It's hard to know I still have so much to learn and wish I had already learned it. :) But oh the joys of the journey, right?

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    1. Morgan, this journey, with all it's highs and lows, is soooo worth it!

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  14. Hi Julie, your hubby gave you perfect advice. At some point we have to let our books go and we should move on to the next book. I too struggle with perfection, I feel I am never good enough.

    Rachna Chhabria
    Co-host IWSG
    Rachna's Scriptorium

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    1. Rachna, it seems we ALL feel that way!

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  15. Great post, Julie. Your husband gave wonderful advice. Best wishes with your writing. : )

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  16. It's a great point, Julie- and one that I think affect everyone. I know that I myself have never- literally never_ felt like the story I finally submitted was perfect. But if I waited till then, as your quotes all say, I'd never submitt anything.

    I think Neil Gaiman said it best:
    "Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving."

    Thanks so much for your comment and for participating in IWSG!
    Bev

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  17. I always know what I'm sending off isn't perfect - and usually I have to give it at least one comb-through. But I do send it after that, warts 'n all. :)

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  18. Your husband gives good advice. Yes, at some point we do have to move on. I recently read, Thanks, But This isn't for Us," and found it really helpful when I edited this summer. I don't know if the manuscript is perfect, but I'm querying it!

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  19. I try to make things as clean as I can, but then I let go. Otherwise frustration ensues!

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  20. Ack! You're awesome!! Heck, you've seen my worst and you still worry about yourself??? LOL!!!

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  21. My husband and critique partner make fun of me because they say I've said ever book I've ever written sucks until someone else tells me it's good.

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