By Liz, doing my best to embrace the chilly weather here in the northeast
I just finished Witch Way Out, the third book in the Full Moon Mysteries (yay!). As most authors do, I love finishing a book. I feel so free. Well, for about a day, before I start the next one.
But also I hate finishing books, in the literal sense. Like, the actual last few chapters are the worst part for me. Almost worse than the slog through the middle.
I’m not sure why it’s that way. I usually have a decent idea of what the ending is going to be while I’m writing, although it’s a little more foggy than the rest of it. But for some reason, the end is always the part that’s never quite there, usually until the rest of the book has been written and edited a couple of times. Which can be kind of frustrating, because I see other writers talk about that sense of completion when they finish a first draft, before they jump into editing and I have LITERALLY never had that. It’s like one big continuation of editing and trying to finish and I always end up feeling like I’m doing it wrong.
I have gotten better with that last part. Somewhere along the way I accepted that my process is my process, and it’s okay. Everyone’s process is different, and one is not better than another as long it eventually gets written. I’m not actually looking to change it anymore—and trust me, I spent a lot of time trying to change it in the past. No, I’m talking about the part when the rest of the book has been edited to death, and the only thing left are the final couple of scenes…and I just keep putting it off.
I’ve thought a lot about this. Part of it is that I’m a recovering procrastinator, still trying to embrace those tasks that are harder than others. Someone also suggested once that there may be a bit of not actually wanting to finish the book because then it’s over and there’s some fear of what’s next. Mostly, though, I think it’s a constant worry that I won’t get the end quite right and it’s clearly a pivotal part of the book.
I know intellectually that this is silly. I mean, I just turned in my sixteenth book, so I must know how to write…right?
In addition to being a recovering procrastinator, I guess you could say I’m also a recovering perfectionist. I know how damaging it is to worry so much about getting things perfect that the thing never actually gets anywhere. I’m making a concerted effort to notice when I do this and, well, stop. The first step to recovery is being aware there’s a problem, I’ve heard.
So I recently put up a reminder above my desk with Sheryl Sandberg’s quote “Done is better than perfect.” It’s a daily nudge that tells me to just get somewhere, because somewhere is definitely better than nowhere—and much easier to fix.
Readers, do you suffer from perfectionism? How do you combat it? Leave a comment below.