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In my opinion, one of the most subtle peculiarities about writer’s block is that it’s sometimes fueled with sane and reasonable motives. Personally, I have delayed writing hundreds of times due to only one small reason: I wanted to write a masterpiece.
There is a saying that perfect is the opposite of good. Indeed, worrying about making something perfect will bring you more trouble than the absence of new ideas, or a lack of literary skill. How is that possible? Try to remember how many times you wrote a sentence and then started to feel that “something’s wrong with this one.” This is what happened to me rather often: instead of writing a whole piece first, and then editing it, I edited one sentence, and edited it to death, so that it became unreadable. After that, I lost any desire to write on, so I would just close the file with the unwritten story and sigh.
This is only one field where perfectionism can break your writing process. I remember being seriously concerned about naming my characters (ANY name that I chose for them did not seem to be suitable), about the “insufficient complexity of the main intrigue,” as I named it (as a result, I made the plot so incomprehensible that I had to rewrite quite a lot of the story), or about my writing style (I felt depressed because I wanted to sound better than Hemingway, who was my idol back then).
It took me a while to understand that what I did was not writing. Writing is a process when you express your thoughts, and deliver them to an audience. Perfectionism turns this process into fighting with yourself for every word. You become picky, too demanding, and self-criticizing.
Another way is to write without worrying about whether you are writing a masterpiece or trash bin material. This is what editing was invented for: to enhance and improve the complete piece of writing. If you rush into editing each sentence during the process of writing, you are at risk of moving nowhere, and thus getting stuck in writer’s block.
You don’t need to be perfect. Just be good at what you do—that’s enough. May the editing be with you.
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