Perfection is the Enemy of Good

We have all heard the saying, “Perfection is the Enemy of Good.” As I work on my edits, that phrase comes to mind. I find myself re-writing the chapter I’m working on. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, when you write you aren’t editing, you are simply letting creativity flow.

When you edit, you are taking that stream of thoughts and creativity, and making sure it makes sense. You make sure it works. Did that brilliant idea you had make the story move forward, or not? Do you have tension and conflict on every page? Are you showing, or telling? Are your characters consistent in action and personality?

So I’m editing, and re-writing as I go. I’m doing much more re-writing than I thought I would. I’ve written books in the past, but they were mostly by-the-seat-of-my-pants, and I didn’t understand as much about building the story then as I do now. When I edited those older books, I was looking for grammar issues and changing minor flow issues. I wasn’t really touching the tale. I wasn’t making sure I had a good story arc.

My editing now is much more intense. So it takes longer. It adds more to the story and the world. It (hopefully) is making a better tale. My aim is to tell a good story with consistent characters and challenges. This means I am adding as I go, and rewriting.

Perfection is the enemy of good. So now I’m editing, and rewriting. And when I finish, I’ll go back again. And maybe again. I have to be careful not to get caught in the editing trap where I keep revisiting it until it’s “perfect.” I also have to be careful not to edit and edit and edit until I wash all the good away. The nice thing is I also believe “done is better than perfect.” If I never finish the book, what good will it do? I get to a point where my glass is full and I’m done. NO more. Can’t add another drop.

I think of it like making a pie crust. If you overwork the crust, your crust won’t turn out right. It may be perfectly round and have a beautiful edge, but if the flavor and texture aren’t right, you have achieved perfection but your end product isn’t good. And eventually you get tired rolling out the dough, anyway.