Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Imperfect Action Trumps Perfect Inaction

Many of you have probably heard the Harry Truman quote, "Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction." I love this quote because it reminds us to do.

Sometimes we writers spend too much time on the sidelines, gathering information. That's great for building a strong background in writing and honing our skills, but at some point we need to stop thinking about what we should do and actually do it.

Does this sound familiar to you?

  • I'll read one more craft book before I actually start writing my book.
  • I can't move on to the next chapter of draft one until the opening fifty pages are perfect.
  • I must attend one more conference/workshop/schmooze before I'll submit my manuscript.
  • My manuscript is ready to go, but I'm waiting for the perfect time before I query.
  • I've queried 20 agents without an offer of representation, so I'm tabling this manuscript.
  • I'd like to indie publish, but I must sign up X number of people to my newsletter and X number of people to my Facebook page before I take that leap.
  • I can't write the next story until this manuscript is sold.
Sometimes we wait on the sidelines because of fear. Believe me, I get it. I'm fearful as heck. But if we wait around for the publishing/agent search/indie climate to be perfect, we'll be frozen with inaction. It's better to get out there, make mistakes, fall on our faces, and get back up. At least then we're doing something.

Let's not wait for perfect inaction. Let's take imperfect action.

Do you wait for the perfect climate before taking action? Are you sometimes frozen with fear? How do you press forward?


  1. Not because of fear, but I don't start working on a new manuscript until after the release of my latest one. I think it's because all of my energy and thoughts are focused on the that particular book. Seems to be my normal pattern, so I'll just go with it.

  2. I think I have to read about a marketing technique ten times before I finally, cautiously, try it. It's funny. I feel I need to know everything about something before I try it.

  3. my inaction that is killing me...not marketing! I have 27 novels...have never done any marketing. Geeslouise!

  4. What a great quote. My inaction is usually due to being busy doing other things--like at my paying job--which has to take priority. And I'm getting to the point where I just don't want to work all the time anymore and that's okay.

  5. At the start of my writing career, those excuses were me. Now I just keep on moving.

  6. The combo of perfectionism and self-doubt turn me into an ice sculpture.

  7. What a great post! Yes, this is me, and I recognize it and try not to let the fear make me procrastinate for to long.

    -Vicki (long time no visit - sorry I've been out of the loop)

  8. I need to kick things into gear here as well. Well spoken!!