Since the arrival of the Alot in my life, I've tried to poke fun at my inner nitpicker, and to refrain from an excessive display of public pedantry whenever I can manage to rein myself in. However, when the time comes for me to send an email or publish a blog post or write a formal letter, the need for perfection reaches new and frankly absurd heights. I am far harder on myself than I am on anyone else when it comes to spelling, punctuation and grammar, and not only dither and fuss over and reread every word I write but then proceed to check and check again and - in the case of blog posts or Facebook statuses - scrutinise my text repeatedly in case I've made a glaringly obvious error somewhere. And this habit of mine is really a bit of a hindrance, to be honest. It causes me not only to waste time that could be better spent, but also to water and fertilise the seeds of doubt which are already embedded so abundantly and deeply in my mind. What if I send something out into the world which is littered with mistakes? What will people think of me? I'm supposed to be a writer!
I'm on day 5 of Jeff Goins' writing challenge, and today's post is entitled prepare. The focus is on the difference between procrastinating and preparing. I absolutely recognise in myself the tendency that Jeff describes: to stall and to wait for perfect, all the while letting good pass me by. And I know that my endless fiddling about with emails and blog posts and anything else I happen to write is a clear indication of insecurity and a deep-rooted belief that if something isn't perfect, it's not worth anything at all.
Today we've been challenged to ship something, get feedback, make it better and repeat until our project is finally ready to launch. I mentioned on Friday that I'm working at the moment on a guide to a recently-composed symphonic song cycle, and I'm currently grappling with the notion of its ideal length. I'm aiming for 100,000 words, and have so far passed the 20,000 word mark without feeling that I am anywhere near a fifth of the way through my total task. I feel I can't possibly ship such a fragmented and disjointed piece of writing in anyone's direction at present, but have fortunately got another piece of writing in the pipeline: a guest post on a friend's blog, over which I've been mulling since last week. I think I've finally sketched out an overview in my mind, and plan to email my preliminary thoughts out to my friend later today. This evening, I'll be preparing to ship something, and I'll be aiming not to procrastinate. Like every other writing challenge with which I've been hitherto issued, this will push me a little further out of my area of comfort and edge me closer to developing a set of good writing habits.
"Because the work you do is practice for the next thing, preparation for tomorrow. And if all you’re doing is stalling, what are you really preparing for? Exactly. Nothing."
Time to get started! Bye for now.