How to Revise: The Perfect Trap
Perfection doesn’t exist. Not really. We all like to think it does because if perfect exists then maybe we can get there. We can become perfect or poses something perfect or find the perfect person or our writing or art can finally become perfect. But Perfect is an ideal. It’s a goal, something to shoot for, and to keep reaching toward. The trick is, we will never make it. Please, keep that in mind. We will never reach perfection. There will always be something we can tweak, a change of words we can use, or a slight inflection that may better impart our meaning.
This is the trap. There is always something else. We can revise forever, but it will never be completely finished. Our ideas will always be clear in our head, but until we can project our thoughts directly onto the page and store them there for someone else to be able to pick up and think later one, we will have to make do with words. Anyone who has written anything long enough will tell you that words can never completely encompass an idea. They always fall just a little short.
That’s nothing to be upset about or ashamed of. That ambiguity is actually what we as writer’s embrace. See, here’s the trick: we as writers don’t actually judge our own work. We can’t. It’s not our place. That honor belongs to the reader. They will forever make up their own minds. I know it sounds like a pain or like we are doomed to fail, but this is actually why writing is so great. Every reader will interpret your words in their own mind. They will design their own worlds around your story. Everyone will create their own story with you as a guide to the world and it’s people.
This is why people read.
This is also why we have to stop trying to be perfect. If we were perfect it would ruin the story. The reader would have everything spelled out for them and wouldn’t be able to imagine for themselves. They’d get bored. If you want people to see exactly what you want them to see and no more you should go into animation or screenplays. We need to embrace the idea that our writing is never going to be perfect. We have to revise until every word is in it’s perfect place. The grammar, the spelling, the story arcs, everything. But no matter how good we make it, we have to accept that it won’t be everything we want it to be.
If we can avoid the trap of trying to be perfect, then we can focus on being good, or good enough, or even amazing. If we don’t avoid the trap, if we insist on perfection, then we will revise forever and ever, never completing our manuscript, never finishing the story, and never getting published.
Trust your readers. Trust your self. Dare to be imperfect and shoot for Amazing.
Good Luck and Happy Writing.