Perfect is the Enemy of Good

Happy Sunday folks!

I’m afraid that this is going to be one of those “Do what I suggest, and pay no attention to what I’m actually doing” kinds of posts.

First, let me explain what I mean by the title of this post. Perfect is the enemy of good when the pursuit of perfection gets in your way so completely that you are unable to move forward. You go back to that part over and over again, editing and polishing and tinkering because it isn’t perfect. Perfection eludes you (as it eludes us all), and you lose your momentum. Maybe you start to lose confidence, then maybe you lose why you wanted to write this thing in the first place. It’s a downward spiral.

So, for reasons that still manage to completely elude me,* I have taken a huge step outside of my comfort zone and am incorporating romantic elements in what I’m currently working on.

This week, it finally happened. After 11 chapters and a bunch of what I hope was effective build up,** I reached the point where my two characters kiss for the first time.

Here is where I got hung up. You never get a chance to redo a first kiss, and this one had to be “Perfect.” I had to convey the appropriate mix of excitement and uncertainty. I wanted to bring to my reader’s minds memories of their own first kiss. I wanted that moment in the story to latch onto something in my readers and put them in that scene.

Easy, right?

I worked on that scene for several days. Sometimes, I’d go back to what led up to that moment and try to set the stage more completely. Sometimes I’d rework that single moment.

I used every trick in the book to get the right “Feel” for the scene. I might have gotten a little obsessive about it.

What saved me was the realization, one morning, that I was going in the opposite direction than what I’d wanted. I had written something that was trying so hard to be “Perfect” that it was becoming a parody of itself. That was the wake up call.

I stripped what I hope was most of the cliche away. I try not to edit as I write, and I’m mostly successful. Here, I think, I needed the editor to take a cold look at what the scene was doing, compare it to what I wanted it to do, then roll up the sleeves and make with the cutting. When I was done, I had something that I was happy with and it’s one of my favorite scenes so far.

On those days I was struggling with it, my word count sometimes was in the low 90’s and my need to “Nail” this scene knocked heads with my need to make progress. Sure I was ending the day with more words than I had when I started (sometimes – there was a -23 word day in that stretch), but it wasn’t where I thought it should be.

I’m happy to say that I’m making progress again and I’m trying to keep in mind that, while the story probably won’t ever reach “Perfect,” the first draft is not where that chase happens.


Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story excerpts.

Time: 12:16 Pm – ish

Music: Poison – Nothin’ but a Good Time


*Not really. I’m pushing myself on purpose. Complacency is the leading contributor to stunted growth.

**Time, and beta readers will tell.