Confessions…and I want to play hookie

I want to play hookie…with my new WIP that is. I have been stuck in an editing foxhole for months now on my current WIP and really I am getting fed up with myself. I have a problem. I am a perfectionist and I cannot stop myself editing and editing and editing… Is there a perfectionist anonymous group out there or an editing anonymous group? Maybe there should be! There could be a 13 step recovery process…OH and I detest synopsis writing! Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with the editing process or with a perfectionist gene?

One of the first steps of curing a problem and recovering from it is in accepting the problem and admitting that you have a problem.

Confession: I am a Perfectionist and my problem is that once I start looking for errors and editing…I cannot stop.

I have no idea if there is a group called Perfectionist Anonymous but I have decided that writers like me desperately need a group like this for recovering editing addicts. We need an intervention and we need people we can call when the urge to continue editing ad infinitum hits us. It is a quagmire of sinking sand that sucks us in even as we try to clamber out. The more we struggle against it, the deeper we sink.

So every recovery program and intervention has a step by step list of dos and don’ts in the steps to becoming cured. So I have come up with a 13 step recovery program for all writers who suffer from Editorix Perfectionist.

13 Steps to Overcoming Editorix Perfectionism

  1. Say the Words: I am a Perfectionist and suffer from perfectionism – the neurotic need to find error and fault and correct and recorrect and still recorrect.
  2. Ask for an intervention to be held by more saner individuals than your neurotic self.
  3. Step away from the manuscript, now on it’s umpteenth draft.
  4. Close the folder entitled WIP – Nth edit.
  5. Repeat to yourself ” Perfectionism is a sly form of Procrastination” – stick this note on every available surface.
  6. Type “The End” on current Nth draft of WIP – and mean it.
  7. Hide all red pens, correction fluid and erasers.
  8. You are a writer not an editor. You have no sane moments nor objective moments when it comes to your WIP. Doctors are not allowed to treat their own family members so writers should not be allowed to edit their own works without assistance and intervention.
  9. The first edit is allowed, the second edit is treading on dangerous ground and the third edit is an edit gone too far.
  10. Surround yourself with notes telling you: You are not useless. You do not write rubbish. Your work is fit for more than a trash can – both on the computer desktop and near the desk. Perfectionism is an unattainable myth as it is as the opposite of humanity – since you are a human, you are imperfect anyway – pointless to fight it.
  11. Surround yourself with critique partners, writing buddies and other writers who know what you struggle against and who know that the writer’s fragile ego is our own worst enemy. Do not be afraid to say you need help before you destroy both your sanity and your manuscript.
  12. Step away from the edited WIP and take a walk with a notebook. Write down the plot for the next manuscript.
  13. Begin writing the new manuscript and find refreshment and creative fulfillment in throwing yourself head-first into a creative binge. (No editing allowed at least until You have typed “the End” on the first draft!)

So this week I am going to be closing the editing folder on Ring a Ring o’ Roses (Nth draft). I am submitting the synopsis and query and then I will leave the rest to the fates that be. I am opening my notebook and starting work on The Tattooist. Editor Kim is going away – she had no business being here for so long anyway. Writer Kim is returning. I am a writer. I am not an Editor. Saner individuals than me become editors, I will stick to what I do best and that is WRITING not EDITING. To be clear I am a recovering not a cured Editorix Perfectionist. This is a continuing struggle.

I am going to do more than play Hookie with The Tattooist. I am going to have a full-blown affair with The Tattooist. The urge to write must take control over the urge to edit. I cannot wait for that delicious feeling of playing hookie and that first blush of the first draft.

Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with the editing process or with a perfectionist gene?

Sign up here _______ if you would like to become a member of Editorix Perfectionism Anonymous.

Watch Brene` Brown on The Power of Vulnerability

Excerpts…”I am surrounded by people who kinda believe that life’s messy love it, and I am more the “life’s messy: clean it up, organize it and put in into a pinto box.” [👍 ]

“…lean into the discomfort of the work and I am like, you know, Knock discomfort upside its head and move it over…”

“I want to separate bravery and courage for you for a moment. Courage: The original definition of courage when it first came into the English language; it’s from the latin word “cor” meaning “heart” and the original definition was: is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart…and so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect…”

Writing is that for me…the courage to be imperfect and to be comfortable in my own skin while being naked in my vulnerability. 👌

15 thoughts on “Confessions…and I want to play hookie

  1. Reblogged this on Social Stock Market and commented:
    I discovered this fantastic writer who is sharing some insightful suggestions to how to let perfectionism in writing go and move into a more productive and positive space in your writing.

  2. I have past/present tense issues – in the narrative! When I see them – the editing won’t stop. I spent almost all day today ‘editing’ 3,500 fracking words. Help me. lol. But that is dead on – perfectionism is a *blatant* form of procrastination. I stopped ‘editing’ this short story upon reading your post. Yes – we should make a group on FB or something. haha!

  3. I agree with Aniko. I think my favorite is “Perfectionism is a sly form of Procrastination.” This was the trap of academia in my opinion and why I chose not to continue on to get my Masters (besides the fact that it took me so stinkin’ long to get my Bachelors). Seems like academia promotes (almost forces) rewrite, workshop, revise, workshop again, revise again… ad infinitum.

    Sometimes you just gotta get it out there.

    However, I would disagree that the third edit is an edit gone too far. Granted, my first draft of The Imaginings was crap, but it still needed much more than three edits. What helped me was having someone else look at it (preferably a professional who has no obligation to be nice whatsoever). I think you are on to something that we can only look at it so many times, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s done. It just means we can’t see anything clearly anymore. Time to hand it to someone else.

    God speed and good luck. And congratulations on the award for the anthology.

    Paul D. Dail A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

  4. I can sooo relate. I’m so bad that I’m constantly editing myself on the first draft. So, for my new WIP, I am making a rule that I write the first draft of every scene in a notebook. It’s a lot harder to move words around. Also, my expectations are lower — I know I’m going to have to type it in and will have a chance to revise then. That’s a freeing thing.

    1. NaNoWriMo 2010 taught me to write the first draft without editing…which is why I am so eager to jump into my new first WIP first draft.
      Great idea to write longhand, yes – much more difficult and time consuming to move words around that way.
      I can see that I am signing up quite a few members to my Perfectionist Anonymous Group with all these comments 🙂 Good enough people to intervene should the urge to edit hit 😉
      Thanks for stopping by Marie. Always a pleasure.

  5. Ha ha ha! I recognise so much of that. But I think a generous dose of perfectionism does go with the territory. Or, put it this way, I’m sure publishers and agents despair of ‘unfinished’ copy arriving on their desks. And boy, does it upset me when a self-published novel has great promise but is bursting with typos and ‘loose’ writing. I dare say, those authors would take a bit of your over editing tendencies from you. But yes, it can slip over into putting off actually getting the story down which is a shame because that’s great fun too. And necessary. I really do try to stop myself editing too much as I go along because I think it can 1. make the story tired when you really need to be just getting the story down and playing with it later and 2. it can be such a waste of time, you don’t really know what you’re going to use and not use until you’ve finished the first draft, do you. Anyway, you’ve pretty much said everything I was going to say so I shall leave now and go and WRITE not edit. Great post! And happy hookie-ing.

    1. Hey Jackie 🙂
      I hear you on rather be in editing mode than send in ratty manuscript. But I have definitely can over-edit!! It is a Sickness! 😀
      Yay for writing not editing!
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  6. My name is Aniko, and I am a perfectionist.

    I knew it was time to put the final THE END on Stolen Climates when I sat in the break room at work, weeping. I kept tinkering with a word here, a phrase there. Every time I looked I saw something else that was not perfect, not even close! Just two weeks prior to that, I had been convinced it was as good as it could get. Then the urge to just make one more check, and one more after that… Editor Aniko was out of control! I was able to set down the red pen/ avoid the backspace button by telling myself that I was probably adding more mistakes than I was curing. It was no longer worth the effort to continue.

    I love the phrase, “Perfectionism is a sly form of Procrastination.” That’s one to live by.

    1. Hi Aniko and Welcome to Perfectionist Anonymous. I will be your sponsor if you agree to be mine 😉
      Man, I hear you completely! I have been at the weepy stage, I have been at the hair-pulling-out-stage, I have been at the beat-my-head-against-the-desk-stage and every other neurotic symptom you can think of and a few that probably have not crossed your mind. But no more! I need to STOP! Time to write not edit. At least for a while.
      Always a pleasure having you stop by 🙂

  7. You have my sympathy, Kim! I am such a perfectionist that I can’t bear to look at my finished work, because I know it’s just a matter of time before I think ‘Hmm, that isn’t quite right’ – and then all I want to do is click ‘unpublish’ and start editing yet again. I think that sooner or later you just have to accept that perfection does not exist in this highly imperfect world. Good luck!

    1. Hi Mari 🙂 it seems us writers all have this need for perfection and our work is never good enough in our own eyes. I am looking forward to starting the creating process again with the new WIP as editing has worn me down. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  8. Good luck, Kim!! Can’t wait to see what comes out of Tattoo. Well done for submitting your query and getting Ring a Ring o Roses out there. Keep us posted on how you get on 🙂
    Trust yourself and your writing. You love this for a really good reason… you are a talented writer.

    1. Thanks hun 😘
      This is what I am saying in Step 11 of my Recovery Intervention Program:”Surround yourself with critique partners, writing buddies and other writers who know what you struggle against and who know that the writer’s fragile ego is our own worst enemy. Do not be afraid to say you need help before you destroy both your sanity and your manuscript.”
      So glad you are one of this group that surrounds me! I also can’t wait to unleash Tattoo – I am going to go all Jackson Pollock on this one…I am going to fling the creative paint at the manuscript canvas and see what comes of it. 🙂 MWAH!

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