Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Moving Forward or Picking a New Path

One of my favorite adages is perfect is the enemy of good. While attributed to Voltaire in modern times, the concept is in the writings of philosophers such as Aristotle and Confucius, and probably in every SAT-prep class high schoolers take. If you hold out for the perfect answer/paragraph/photograph/birthday gift, you will never be satisfied.  Forget satisfied, you may not finish your task.

As I near the end a book (which has taken too long to write!), I've come up with several thoughts about procrastination in book writing. They may ring true to others.

1)  Think of the least favorite job you've had and imagine yourself getting up at five AM to get there on time. Still not writing? Set the alarm clock.
2)  Imagine that the hero of your book is drowning and you aren't able to get to him/her. If you yawn, you may not be working on a book you truly want to finish. Time to think of another plot.
3)  Picture yourself at a book signing surrounded by piles of books. No one is buying. Take this as a sign that the book may not be that good. Move on.
4)  Imagine a rainy day, with your yard full of mud. If you are thinking about going out to garden, consider therapy.
5)  Remember that you've put yourself on a tight budget so you can save for something important--maybe a new car or trip to the Grand Canyon. Your car or trip depends on book income, and you still can't write. You flip paperclips at the wall.

If you can see yourself in one of these scenarios, perhaps you need a dose of self-discipline. Not to keep working on a poorly conceived draft, but to remember that writing a good book has very little to do with the initial idea. It's more about parking yourself in a chair and continuing to work.

You can edit a lousy draft.  Or so I'm told.


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