No Such Thing as Perfect

Procrastination is like a virus. It lays you low, keeps you from getting anything done, and spreads like wildfire since, when we procrastinate, we often distract others in our effort to avoid whatever we should be doing. Procrastination is the writer’s enemy, and is often tied to this concept that we need just the right conditions in order to write. You hear writers bemoan the lack of a dedicated writing space, the noise level in their homes, the distractions of every day life. And yes, I’ll acknowledge that it’s occasionally necessary to do the laundry and take out the trash, and that the kids can turn up their stereos too high. But there is a difference between living your life, and using your life to avoid your writing.

No one has perfect writing conditions. That’s just reality. Even if you get to be a multi-title bestseller and can afford nannies and cooks and people to take your packages to the post office for you, there will be something vying for your attention and encouraging you not to write. Life gets in the way, no matter how much help you have. So, that fantasy that occasionally overtakes you? The one about the perfectly appointed desk in your private office with the lovely-but-not-at-all-distracting view and the quiet, inspirational background music? Get over it right now. Perfection is a myth, and if you wait for the perfect moment to write, you’ll never get anything done.

I can extend this example through all the levels of your potential writing career, of course. The book will never be perfect — just as good as you can get it. There is no perfect book deal or perfect career arc. You work hard and take advantage of as many opportunities as you can, and when they don’t appear you keep working and make them happen. But all that requires that you start somewhere. That you start writing and keep writing, every day, even if you can only steal 15 minutes. Don’t wait for the perfect situation to write. Just go do it.