George Lucas famously said that films are never truly finished, only abandoned. I’ve noticed that that is true of basically everything I do, even though I’m not a filmmaker. I’m a writer, and each article I write feels like it has its own life and rhythm. It’s born, matures, and finally gets sent out into the world to fend for itself like a fledgling from the nest. With this in mind, I’d like to share my thoughts on the painful process of writing, rewriting, and perfecting works of art.
The Fun Part of Writing
I love when I feel a jolt of creativity that motivates me to start, and then the pieces fall together joyfully as I go through the writing process. Some articles are a pure delight to write, while others require more strain than I’d like to admit. But no matter how much fun or trouble I’ve had initially putting an article together, I always arrive at the same dilemma.
Editing and Reworking
Each time I reread my article, I notice new flaws in it. At first, it’s that I had a typo or two, and then it’s that I used the same word too often for my liking, and then it’s that I got a quote slightly wrong, and then it’s a plot detail I need to reword. The point is that I eventually have to stop myself from looking for flaws in order to actually publish something for the whole world to see and potentially criticize to a great degree, not knowing that I’ve already pounded it like crazy to get the dents out.
Thankfully, I’m not the only one who looks at my work before I publish it. My wife acts as my editor, giving me a welcome perspective on everything I write. That way, I don’t have to worry that I’m only making sense to myself. Sometimes she has pointed out so many flaws in my work that it challenged me to entirely rewrite it. Other times, she has told me a small concern she had, and I’ve been able to make minor changes to fix it.
Perfection as a Process
I’m sure this comes across as nothing new to anyone who has written or built anything in their life. The act of creation is all about taking something crude and refining it into something better. One thing I worry about is that I tend to make the same mistakes time and time again in my writing, which I only notice after the fact in the editing process. I’m not sure how to get things right the first time, especially as I write excessively long articles. But maybe I shouldn’t worry about that since what really counts is the final product others see, not the first draft only I ever see.
As long as I keep getting better at catching my mistakes, does it really matter if I never get everything exactly correct the first time through? I could give myself an ulcer worrying over every word as I’m writing, or I can simply power through and get the general gist of my thoughts on paper before going back and honing them. That’s likely the best method for writing. Striving for perfection from the get-go could easily become a barrier to even beginning because the task would appear insurmountable.
Not in Vain
If the man who gave us so many wonderful works of art felt like he only abandoned them, never finished them, what right do I have to complain or fear that my own work isn’t good enough? I’m not creating the next Star Wars. I’m simply letting what little light I have shine forth to illuminate minds instead of hiding what talent I have under a bushel for fear of making a mistake. I appreciate everyone who comes to read my pearls of wisdom, and I trust that my efforts at creating these articles are not in vain.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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