In the Future, Tense

May 27, 2010

Finishing — Part 2: The Fear of Failure

One of the great contradictions of professional writing is that it attracts control freaks, and then removes almost all control from them.  You’ve got very little control over what will sell, or if, or how.  Once it does sell you’ve got very little say in anything related to production, publicity or package.

The one thing we do have control over is the story itself, and that’s the important part, right?  So it’s okay to obsess over it.  In fact, it’s vital to obsess over it.  Every word must be carefully chosen and placed, and it must be rewritten and rewritten until it is perfect, no matter how long it takes.  Right?

Ummm…right.  Up to a point.  At some point you just have to declare it done.  It’ll never be perfect.  Perfection doesn’t exist, especially not for the author because you know where all the seams are and the location of each and every buried body.  The more you rewrite the more seams and buried bodies there are going to be.  You just have to dig deep and say it’s good enough, and let it go.

The inability to stop rewriting is one of the manifestations of the great writing fear; fear of failure.

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