Perfectionism Is My Downfall
Perfectionism is my issue when it comes to finishing things - or not finishing things if I'm being honest. I get obsessed with making things perfect which is why I struggle with completing things. This is going to be a problem if my word of the year is Accomplish.
Last year, I struggled with it a lot. I decided to go with quality over quantity when it came to something like my first draft of a novel. First drafts were something that I could usually write out in less than a month, yet it took an entire year to finally finish a single first draft. That is something I won't ever forget because I felt annoyed with myself for not doing more.
But I did fall into the perfectionism trap. When things weren't perfect, I would rewrite it again and again until I had something that I somewhat liked. It wasn't until mid-November, after I'd already hit 50k for NaNoWriMo, that I knew I wasn't going to be finishing that novel. It was my military fantasy novel and it was already over 200k words at the time. I wasn't even halfway through it. I wanted something I could finish by the end of December. So I put it off to the side and decided to work on a personal project called Absolute Darkness.
This is actually a series that I don't ever plan on publishing because these are my experimental novels. This is where I experiment new concepts and writing styles. So, you can expect those to be a mess but this was what I decided to focus on as my one finished writing project for the year.
I expected it to be short but it ended up being 120k words in the end. And yes, I did finish it. The wonderful people in the WriYe Discord server were extremely encouraging and really helped me push through to the end. Though all of those 10k days really helped (I did 10 total). I threw perfection out of the window while I was writing this because I just wanted to get it done.
This probably isn't a method I would encourage all of the time but this time, I learned a lot. Here are some of the things I picked up on as I fast-drafted.
I learned more about the magic system
I learned more about the world
I learned more about the characters
I discovered which direction I wanted this novel to go
I noticed words and phrases I used a little too much
I rediscovered my need for outlines
My strengths and weaknesses stood out
Overall, this novel made me think more in a short amount of time. I was able to catch things that I don't normally catch when I'm just drafting a novel. As I discovered these things, I wrote them down in a notebook I had designated for the series so I would remember it later on. It's something I can revisit later when I decide to revise that draft. Which is probably going to be closer to a rewrite.
Being able to just push through to the end, helped me more than just lingering on the novel and rewriting it until I got better. It's probably a method that doesn't work for everyone since everyone works differently. I'm just glad it worked for me and I'm going to try to do this for a lot of my first drafts.
All of my polished drafts come after revisions when I sit down and change the story to make it just how I want it but that's a post for another time.
Anyway, one of my goals this year is to work on getting over my issues with perfectionism which is something I'll probably blog about a lot over the year. This isn't just about writing. It can be for anything, and I'm looking forward to continue discovering ways to fight it and learn from it.