“The best way to get something done is to begin.” ~Author Unknown
Hello, my name is Debra and I am a self-perfectionist.
Yes I am. I like everything to be just right, perfect if possible but only when it comes to my work. With regards to the standards I set for others, I am gracious and forgiving. I don’t get uptight if beds are left unmade or the cushions aren’t straightened on the sofa. My husband’s late night tea cup can sit in the sink until the morning and if it takes a few days for the clean clothes to be folded and put away, that’s ok too.
The standards I set for myself though are entirely different. I look at home offices featured in House and Garden and think that’s what mine should look like. I like matching folders and organised systems. I don’t like to start writing in notebooks unless I have just the right pen. And when I find the ‘right’ pen, I buy them in bulk so I always have just the ‘right’ pen. I like colour coded, in order and matching. It’s just the way I am.
The need for everything just right was a huge test for me when I started writing my book. I literally spent hours looking for just the right font! Would I write in Word, InDesign or Apple Pages? 1.5 line spacing or 2? What size font? The actual set up phase took so long, getting any words on the page seemed like a bit of a pipe dream.
Eventually I did start writing and therein came the next dilemma. Was that sentence correct? Was that the best word? Should I end this paragraph here? Was I making sense?
The number of times I started, deleted, started, deleted, gave up and made a cup of tea demonstrates classic perfection driven procrastination at it’s finest.
But then I had a breakthrough. I was reading the arts section in my weekend newspaper and in particular a feature article on the author James Patterson. His career had been in advertising however in 1996 he resigned to devote his time to writing. In 33 years he has written 71 novels! Yes 71. (I am sure that James doesn’t sit and fret about what font he is going to use). One of his secrets, he writes and writes without edit. He just writes. He doesn’t question, ponder or critique. He simply writes.
So that’s what I decided to do. James Patterson is someone who is a hugely successful author. I was happy to give him expert status to my novice status. Next day, I opened a new page in Word on my computer, saved a document called simply ‘book’ and started typing. And guess what? The words flowed. Hours went by, page after page, no questions, not edit, no self criticism. Pretty soon I had chapter one, then chapter two and then finally draft one of my first completed book. Was it perfect? Nope, not at all, but I had something now to mould into an actual book and to me that haphazardly created manuscript riddled with incorrect spelling and questionable grammar was a lot better than perfect. It was my first book.