When Preparation Doesn’t Help The Process

A month ago, I finished a rough first draft for my current WIP (work in progress), a novel.

While I was writing, I noticed plot holes and inconsistencies that I would need to fix, so I made note of them but kept powering through. 

Once I finished, I took a break to work on the final edits for my novella, but now I’m back to working on my novel.

I remember reopening the Scrivener document, comparing it to my notes, and just going, “now what?”

With so many problems to fix and scenes to revise/write/rewrite, how could I not be overwhelmed? Where should I even start?

Even with all the notes I made, I still didn’t know what I needed to do to edit my novel. And the more I thought about it, the more complicated it felt. 

That got me thinking. 

Age of Information

In this day and age, we have the internet. I can search for just about anything, and probably find an answer if I dig deep enough. But even with all the information in the world at my fingertips, my problems aren’t all automatically solved.

Sure, I can find out how to remove an oil stain from my white T-shirt, but that doesn’t change the fact that the stain is there. Just like knowing what I need to fix in my novel doesn’t change the fact that the problems are still there.

I need to actually work in order to solve the problems.

Pressure of Perfection

Writing the rough draft of my novel was a challenge, but for some reason, it didn’t feel nearly as difficult as sitting down to revise it. Why?

That’s when it hit me.

The editing process makes things real.

If I’m writing a story, there’s definitely a small pressure there. After all, I’d like to write a good story. But the minute I start editing the story, the pressure builds and grows. My mindset completely shifts, and what was good in the drafting process is unacceptable in revision. Now, it’s not enough to have a good story, it has to be perfect.

How could I not be overwhelmed if I expect perfection after my first round of edits?

How unfair is that?

But writing isn’t the only area in my life that I struggle with when it comes to perfection. Cooking, cleaning, the arts—even social interactions have a pressure on them.

So how should I deal with the pressure?

Option #1

Keep striving and struggling to reach the impossible standards I’ve placed on myself. Let my stress and anxiety rise to dangerous heights in the process, and wait for the inevitable mental or physical breakdown when I just can’t keep up anymore.

Option #2

Give up. Since I know nothing I do will be perfect, I might as well just stop trying. Why clean anything when it’ll never be clean enough to satisfy me? Why edit my stories when I’ll never be happy with the results? Why interact with people when I know I’ll say things that I’ll regret and feel embarrassed about later?

Neither of these options have helped me in the past. All they’ve ever done is continue to bring me down and leave me miserable. 

Revising My Life

Since I know that I don’t like either of the options I have, I need a different option. An option that balances my desire to do well, with my understanding of what I can reasonably accomplish.

Since I don’t have this option yet, I’ll have to borrow a tool that I often use when writing: revision.

My life is like a WIP. It’s constantly changing as I learn and grow because that’s how God designed our bodies to work. It’s not going to stay the same for the rest of our lives. 

I have a hand in the revision process, so I can take steps to change things for the better. And that’s my goal.

I want to change. I want my standard of perfection to be reasonable. I’d love to be happy about the things I accomplish.

And most of all, I’d like to actually enjoy the editing process.

So, when I’m not revising my novel, I’ll be busy revising my life.

But unlike my novel, I don’t think I’ll ever be finished revising myself.

Before You Go…

Is there something in your life that you’d like to revise?

Let me know in the comments!

Read last week’s blog here!

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