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Some writing advice…is less than perfect ‘good enough’?

 Today’s entry is from Randy Ingermanson, the ‘Snowflake Guy’.

IMG_20180720_165918081I’ve got to say that I’m of various opinions on this. Depends where my piece is going next.

If it’s a contest, where THIS IS IT, I tend to lean toward perfection. If it’s going to a beta reader or an editor, I want it to be good, of course, but I think it’s important to let go of perfection in favor of getting some other eyes on it and opening up.

Organization: Is “Done” Better Than “Perfect”?

by Randy Ingermanson

I realized recently that I’m a perfectionist.

That has an upside and a downside.

The upside is that when I finally finish something, it’s the best I can do. It’s something I can be proud of.

The downside is that it often takes me a very long time to finish things. And sometimes I don’t get them done at all. And that means there are a lot of unfinished things on my plate. Which is not something to be proud of.

So I’ve been asking myself lately whether it’s better to be “done” or “perfect.”

And I can’t see that either one is always the best answer.

The Argument to Just Get it Done

Some things simply don’t need to be perfect. (That’s very hard for me to say, but I have to admit it’s true.)

I own a couple of acres of land, in a state where there’s lots of rain and quite a bit of sunshine. Which means that weeds grow like crazy here. Short of a nuclear blast, I don’t think it’s actually possible to get the entire lot free of weeds at any given time.

But even if it was possible, they’d be back in a week. So it makes sense to just blaze through and knock out all the big weeds and leave the little guys alone. Painful as it is to let the little weeds live, there are just too many of them.

Now that summer is approaching, I’m facing that reality again. So there’s a case for getting the job mostly done, rather than perfectly done.

I had a manager once who used to say, “Make it good enough for now.” I never liked that idea, but often it was the only way to work.

When you have a hard deadline that absolutely must be met, usually the best you can do is “good enough for now.”

The Argument to Get it Perfect

But there are times when you really need perfection.

For example, when lives are at risk. Every airplane crash is a reminder that somebody, somewhere wasn’t perfect.

As another example, sometimes there are outsized rewards for being the best. If you’re IMGP0717.JPGan Olympic athlete in an event that gets a lot of media attention, there can be a huge financial difference between a gold medal and a silver. Even if the performance difference is only a hundredth of a second.

When you’re in a high-risk situation or a high-reward situation, “good enough for now” really isn’t good enough.

What About That Book You’re Writing?

Let’s bring this home for writers. What about that book you’re writing? Is it better to get it done, or get it perfect?

I’d say that depends.

It depends on what your goals are for the book. It depends on your strategic vision for your writing career.

It may very well make sense for you to write books quickly, doing the best you can in a set amount of time, producing good quality books on a regular schedule. That works for many writers. We might call this the James Patterson model. Mr. Patterson does very well by writing about a dozen books per year.

But it may also make sense for you to write the best book you possibly can, no matter how long it takes. You might take years between books, while your fans loyally wait, knowing that you’re going to give them an amazing experience every time. That also works well for some writers. We might call this the J.K. Rowling model. The last three Harry Potter books were spaced two to three years apart. And Ms. Rowling has done very well by that model.

You Get To Decide

You are in charge of your own life, so you get to decide how you’ll run your writing career.

Remember, it’s not all or nothing. You don’t have a binary choice between “fast and good enough” or “slow and perfect.” There’s a spectrum of options, and you get to choose where you’ll fit on that spectrum.

IMGP0748Here are a few questions to guide you:

  • Does your personality lean more towards “get it done” or “get it perfect”?
  • Does your target audience value high speed in writing or high quality?
  • Are there outsized rewards for being the fastest writer in your category?
  • Are there outsized rewards for being the best writer in your category?
  • Where do the writers you admire most land on the spectrum of “fast” versus “amazing”?

Every project is different. You don’t have to put all your books at the same point on the spectrum. You can bend some of them toward the “fast” end and some toward the “amazing” end.

I make only one recommendation here: make the decision on where you want your book to be on the spectrum at the beginning of the project.

And then live by that decision.

******

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.

March’s Women’s history month– Second Chances

secondchancespromo.jpgExcerpt:

Inessa’s gaze flicked to the opening in the fence. The man waiting there stepped through, approaching with apparent reluctance. When he wavered at the steps, Ann took his arm and helped him onto the porch.

“Inessa Regan, this is Kurtis Lowdon. Kurt, this is Inessa Regan, the lawyer I told you about. She is fabulous! She can draft up what you need in no time at all!”

Inessa studied the man, taking in his thin frame, shadowed brow, and very close-cropped blond hair. Something about him wasn’t right. She set her wine glass aside and waited for one of them to explain.

“Sorry to disturb you,” he said. His apology was followed by a boyish grin, and that’s when the oddity of the picture came together. He moved and stood like an old man, but he had to be less than thirty, perhaps just college age. “Annie insisted.”

“It’s her way.” Inessa managed an answering smile, shreds of courtesy tugging at her conscience. “I usually don’t see clients outside the—” Realizing she was about to say “office,” the irony stopped her. “Well, seeing as I don’t have an office, I’ll have to make different arrangements.”

“No office?” Ann’s brow twitched, but she hesitated only a moment before barreling right on. “You can help him, though, can’t you, Nessa? Kurt’s just finished his second round of chemo. He wants to make sure his life is in order—just in case, you know? I told him not to worry, that everything’s gonna be perfectly fine, but he’s so stubborn, you know, like men are, and thinks it all has to be written down in black-and-white…”

Ann babbled on, but Inessa didn’t really listen. She looked into Kurt’s blue eyes and recognized there knowledge of his imminent mortality. His smile, however, was undimmed in spite of it. She felt like an ass for indulging her self-pity over an employment setback.

“Nice to meet you,” she said at last, leaning forward to shake his offered hand.

“Same here.” The warmth of his regard jolted through to her toes as their hands met. He glanced down at her feet. “Never met a barefoot attorney before. I guess I thought you were all born wearing wingtips.”

Nonplussed, Inessa finally laughed.

“Aha! My new marketing brand. ‘The Barefoot Attorney.’”

“It could work.” A mischievous streak sparkled in his eye. “When can I meet with you? Time is of the essence, as you people say.”

“I don’t know. I’m not even sure where.”

“Nothing wrong with right here, if you ask me. How about tomorrow? I’ll bring breakfast?”

That smile. Hard to resist. He and Ann together were like an oncoming city bus. Best get on, or get run over.

“Umm, well, all right. Sure. Nine a.m.?”

“Perfect. Thanks.” He squeezed her hand again and stepped back.

“Great!” Ann gushed. “I just knew this would work out! And so convenient, too. You’re a saint, Nessa.” She stamped a foot on the porch as the gray cat poked its head up out of the bushes. “Moonbeam! Get your butt back home now!” The animal vanished into the growing darkness. “Come on, Kurt, honey.”

She took his arm, and they walked away, Ann talking a mile a minute. The young man paused to wave before he closed the gate.
After he was gone, his smile lingered with Inessa, stirred something deep within her. She tried to get hold of herself. Inessa Lin Regan, that’s nonsense. You’re old enough to be his mother.

Well. Maybe an older sister.
Maybe.

An unexpected bubble of joy trickled up inside her. As night settled in and the stars flicked into visibility one by one, she finished her glass of wine slowly, looking forward to breakfast for the first time in years.
——————-
SECOND CHANCES, by Alana Lorens, from Zumaya Embraces; Trade paperback, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-61271-080-8, 236 pp.; Ebook, $5.00, ISBN 978-1-61271-081-5 (Kindle), 978-1-61271-082-2 (epub)

Available wherever fine books and ebooks are sold.)

secondchancespromo

A great editor? For free, you say???

Friend and sister Pennwriter Susan Helene Gottfried at West of Mars has just come up with a wonderful contest, and the prize is free editing!!

Image result for typos“My new site design went live just now — well, last night most likely — and I’m showing it off.

There are, of course and as always, some bugs to work out. I know some links are broken. It might even be more than some.

BUT, to celebrate and to invite you to look things over, I’m making you an offer, one I hope you won’t refuse:

Either 50 pages edited for free OR $50 off your edit IF you find the most typos on the site.”

If you’re a typo fiend and need some work edited–here’s your sign!

 

A new look, a new leaf

roseWelcome to the new website! My old one was hacked earlier this summer, and it’s taken awhile to get the energy to try again. But here we are! Please add the new address to your bookmarks–remember the hyphen!!

While I am able to replace the content I had created, sadly I have lost many wonderful interviews with sister authors, and many connections I’d made. I apologize to those who are linked to the old site. I suppose we’ll have to do interviews of your new books! Hit me up.

In the meantime, I’m writing again, waiting to hear from publishers, and looking forward to more years of authoring. Thanks for coming along with me on the ride.  🙂