Perfectionism is Slow Death


Perfect Pink
Photo by Cindy See


This picture made me laugh because there is actually a guy down my street who sits in his grass and trims it with a hand tool and picks through it like he's a momma monkey plucking fleas off her young. And his lawn does look great, but honestly, it doesn't look all that different from my yard, which just gets cut the regular old way.
So this got me to thinking about perfectionism when writing. When do we know it's time to stop editing and revising? How can we tell when detail orientation has turned into obsessive perfectionism?
I have trouble finding this line. I'm a perfectionist by nature. Case in point: You do not want to know how much time I spent revamping the format of this blog over last few days. If something was a half inch too far to the right or whatever, it drove me crazy until I could figure out how to fix it. And these obsessive tendencies definitely bleed into my writing. Every time I read through my manuscript, I can find something to change. On good days, this may be a word that needs to be changed or punctuation that needs to be fixed. On bad days, this could be a whole plot thread I want to rewrite.
And of course, editing, revising and a detailed eye are vital for creating a great manuscript, but seeking perfection is a losing battle. It won't be perfect. Ever. So how do we know when we've reached this point...
So you tell me, how do you know when to stop? What's your litmus test for knowing the manuscript is ready to send out to the world?
Also, as a bonus today, some laughs for a gray Monday and helpful links:
  • Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (who you should check out if you're not familiar--they're hilarious) held a contest for renaming this terrible romance book cover. Make sure you read the comments--I was rolling.
Three hundred pages after "Oh, you like me too? No way, I thought you hated me!", the plot arrives late to the party, drunk, in a beat-up '53 Chevy pick-up truck. It drives away about fifty pages later and crashes into a tree, gets sent to the hospital, and is rarely heard from again throughout the course of the series.
  • (agent Mary Kole's website) is holding a query contest for YA/MG/picture books. If you win, she will crit the first thirty pages of of your manuscript. How awesome is that?
  • Over at Miss Snark's First Victim, she's holding another Secret Agent contest. You post your first 250 words and a mystery agent comments (along with readers). Then the agent picks a winner and typically requests a partial. (She gets biggie agents to do this, so a great opportunity.) This month it's only open to Adult books (no YA) of any genre except SF/F or erotica. Contest opens at noon today.
Hope everyone has a great day!



**Today's Theme Song**
"Perfect" - Simple Plan
(player in sidebar--go ahead, take a listen)

*title is quote by Hugh Prather*