The Useful Futility of Striving for Perfection

Nothing can ever be made to be perfect. Anyone who has undertaken any artistic project has probably heard some version of that thought. Everything will have flaws, imperfections. That’s just the way of things.

This notion has been weighing on my mind lately. I’ve entered the editing stage of my current novel. While this can often be fun and more rewarding then the slog of the first draft, It can also be painful. Every clunky sentence hurts, the desire to improve almost overwhelming. I want the novel to be perfect like it is in my head.

Yet this will never happen. If I follow that road I will never reach the end of it. That journey will be in vain. It will never be perfect, far from it in fact. There will be flaws and weaknesses, despite all my efforts.

The question then is, when to stop? When to move ahead with it and stop fussing? A book is never truly finished, only completed. As some point it has to be let go, so that you can move ahead on other things. Striving for perfection can be an anchor that holds you fast in one spot. It is a double edged sword. It can make you work harder, your work better, but it can also root you in place, trapped in the past.

The knowing when to stop is likely different for every project and every person. Identifying when something is as good as you can reasonably make it can be nearly impossible. Yet it is vital if one is to keep moving and growing.

You can follow me on twitter at James Bee


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