I’m certain many writers, if not all, have experienced perfectionism.
I recently tweaked my submissions fifteen times before I was somewhat satisfied, deleting and inserting words and re-structuring sentences, but deciding that it was done came only when exhaustion crept in. You know the feeling: you find yourself looking at the screen for so long that you don’t realise five hours have passed. You’re somehow too tired to move yet agitated enough to pace. You might even pray that the abyss you’re staring into sucks you in like a black hole.
However, sometimes wisdom comes along and tells you you’re not alone. I came across the article “How to Defeat Your Perfectionism in Writing” when scouting for advice. In short, it says you need to move on and accept that, while nothing will be perfect, you did your best. I’ve told myself that for as long as I can remember, but, of course, when someone else says it you start to believe it.
Things I’ve taken upon myself to help enforce that belief include new and existing things.
I now use deadlines after never doing so before, giving me a stronger confidence with stopping editing before it becomes excessive and taxing. I’ll take a break when things get intense, showering or napping, binging Netflix or sticking my head outside for fresh air. I try to recognise growth within my style or method or process, seeing it as evolving instead of changing or failing.
Most of all, I remember why I became a writer.
There’s no doubt perfectionism will always be lurking in the background, but it’s wrong if it thinks it will win every time.
First of all, Happy belated 2018 to the fellow writers, readers, and bloggers.
Holidays are a good time to receive those books you wanted – though my haul consisted of three, two which have been read: Captive Prince and Coraline – but they’re also a good time to finally get round to those books that have been sitting on your shelves for the past few weeks or months. Years, even. I, for one, have many that are collecting dust as we speak. Those are the ones that I aim to read this year, even if they remain unfinished. At least I’d then be able to buy more books without guilt weighing on my back.
The list includes a mix of genres, though the titles are mainly within the fantasy area, and it looks something like this:
I’d be fooling myself if I said these were all the unread books on my to-read shelf, but they’re the ones calling out to me most. I’ll certainly be reading several other books along the way, such as finishing off the Percy Jackson series after years of making my way through it, or delving into a little bit more non-fiction with Lion: A Long Way Home.
Even if the list remains uncompleted, it won’t be the end of the world, but it would be a relief to finish them all – or some, a few, even one – giving them away for the next person to read.
Do you have any books you’re planning to read in 2018? Have you already started to? How many?
In December 2016, I started submitting short stories to magazines. A year later, I’ve had about thirty rejections and two acceptances, published by Flash Fiction Magazine and Body Parts Magazine. You’d think that after a couple of publications – or even many more than that – receiving acceptances would build up and submitting in general would become easier.
Oh, how wrong I was to think that.
While not all my submissions (there were many more stories that were rejected and then abandoned), these are the current ones, two awaiting responses, along with a third that I’m trying to search for a magazine to submit. Nowadays, I expect rejections. In the past, it would’ve crushed what remained of my battered spirits, but what I’ve seen from other authors and writers is that rejection is part of the process.
It might seem devastating when receiving that apology letter, but it can be seen as a good thing. You take a step back to see what to do next time, how to improve, gearing yourself up for the next round of writing. My first ever submission was about a mysterious door that led to dangerous and dark things, and I assumed the editors were wrong when they rejected it, but comparing it to my current stories (while some aren’t quite fitting to some magazines) I had much to work on. My writing has grown over that time, experimenting with different ideas, showing that trying new things could be the path to take.
Some people might see that as a way to change their genre or ideas, which if you want to do that, that’s great, but write you. Use your voice. There will always be people out there who want to read it. And even though it might take weeks, months, even a year before we’re published again, each rejection is a stepping stone towards an acceptance.
If you’re looking for places to submit, some resources to aid you include:
I received the great news that my new flash fiction piece, “New Faces” is now live and available to read at Body Parts Magazine. It’s fairytales meet witches. Please have a read and share with the world. You can read it here.