You wouldn’t let it lie…

100 Days of Writing: Day 19

Short story: Done. It took me over a week, at times was like pulling teeth and I very, very nearly didn’t submit it because I didn’t think it cut it. Then finally, after printing it off and trying to read it as a reader rather than the writer, decided it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. And so, at 11.51am yesterday, nine minutes before the deadline, I uploaded it and clicked ‘submit’ before the Monkey of Self-Criticism on my back had a chance to change my mind. Again.

Of course, minutes later I went into a blind panic having worked out what had been bugging me and wished I could go back in time and edit again…

That’s when I realised: sometimes you just have to let it go.

Some people just plough through and get stuff done. Not me. I fall into the category of Extreme Editor.  Everyone knows the first draft is always crap, that’s why editing was invented. But some of us take it to new heights.

Even after an exhausting editing process, I will agonise, read it again, decide it’s shit, redo it, then go over it again, tweaking, changing, reverting back, tweaking again. Again. And again.  It’s a wonder I ever finished the first book (and there were plenty of times when I wasn’t sure I would).

I’m not alone.  Faffing around and being unable to let it lie is why so many writers, musicians, sculptors, artists, in fact anyone who creates something that involves the partial bearing of one’s soul, will start a project and never finish it.

So we need deadlines.  If there isn’t one, self-impose one. Because if you want to move on to the next thing, you have to get the first one finished.

Right, here’s an exercise:

Get the thing you want to finish. Go and get it now, I’ll wait.

OK, look at it/read through it. Just the once.

Now, you have five minutes to make as many changes as you think are necessary. Three, two, one, GO.

Right, time’s up. Stop.

Leave it! Now move on.

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