Perfectionism ruined me.

Quaoar

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I'm someone who can be overly committed to writing a single novel, edit it over and over and over again till it's perfected.

There's this novel I've tucked away for so long, the first novel I've uploaded in Webnovel, got like 35,000 views because of its clickbaity title and cover. Zero rates. Zero reviews. Just imagine them reading the first chapter then dropping it abruptly.

Then I deleted it.

I wrote novel after novel and couldn't finish anything. The only thing beneficial to me was that my writing skills had improved a bit.

After doing like ten unfinished novels, I came up with a funny thought.

Why not go back to your first novel and finish it?

I convinced myself: Let your first novel be your worst one.

I told myself that it was okay to publish it even if it's bad. I just needed the "shamelessness" to do it.

So I rewrote my first novel. Six chapters.

Then discontinued it again.

Sigh.

Okay, Quaoar, why not use the old version of the story and just polish some things?

Right now, I've been doing just that. I brutally killed my darlings.

Some authors successfully delete their first novel and just move on to write a banger of a novel.

I have two reasons why I couldn't delete it:
  1. I asked my friend to illustrate the cover for my first novel.
  2. I fear that if I delete this, it will be also the same for the next one.
Number two is manageable for me, but the fact that my friend gave her effort for this edgy story made me hesitant to delete it because I don't want to feel guilty and don't want to make her feel bad either. It'd be such a waste otherwise.

It's like I'm forced to finish it.

There's no passion left for me to continue this book.

I'm just objectively writing it—without heart.

Even worse, I can't change the characters since they're already drawn.

It's like my novel is whispering to me:

"You can't escape from me. You may have new ideas and write them down passionately, but I'll always be here, staring at you. Come on. Finish me already. What, scared of publishing me because I'm too terrible? You'll be stuck in this loophole forever."

The thing is I've already finished it.

I'm just not too sure whether or not I should publish it.

But I should publish it because I want to be done with it already and have peace of mind. I'm stuck with the mindset of "If I finish this, then I can finally write another one."

I realized, even if it's "perfected," there will still be people who won't like it anyway.
 

CL

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You don't want everybody to like it. There are some real damn sickos out there that can only feel happy when somebody else's life is ruined. You don't want to support them by creating content like to see.
 

vzymmer

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There are 2 types of idiots in the world.

First is the idiot who knows everything but doesn't understand them and second is the idiot who doesn't know everything but understands them.

Guess which kind of idiot you are.

Definition of perfection, perfection is a lack of flaw or mistakes.

So you saying perfectionism has ruined you is like you're admitting you want to be perfect when there is nothing perfect in this world.

Are you an idiot? You saying you're a genius who does everything perfect?
It's okay to dream but be realistic with it.

Want some advice?

You're creating a story and not a machine, it's okay to make mistakes and flaws. You're not a superman who needs to save lives, you're a writer who entertains people and yourself by creating a world you want other people to see.
You want your characters to be heard, you want them to interact with the world you make.

You're only human so it's okay to make mistakes, you don't need perfect grammar or a perfect plot to write a story.

You're asking about other peoples opinion?

What about them?

They're not writing you story, they don't pay you to entertain them, they can't dictate what you want to write so why care about their opinions.

Yes they're readers but that's just it.
They read because they want to be entertained and not because they want to write.
 

SailusGebel

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Mar 7, 2020
Messages
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108
There are 2 types of idiots in the world.

First is the idiot who knows everything but doesn't understand them and second is the idiot who doesn't know everything but understands them.

Guess which kind of idiot you are.

Definition of perfection, perfection is a lack of flaw or mistakes.

So you saying perfectionism has ruined you is like you're admitting you want to be perfect when there is nothing perfect in this world.

Are you an idiot? You saying you're a genius who does everything perfect?
It's okay to dream but be realistic with it.

Want some advice?

You're creating a story and not a machine, it's okay to make mistakes and flaws. You're not a superman who needs to save lives, you're a writer who entertains people and yourself by creating a world you want other people to see.
You want your characters to be heard, you want them to interact with the world you make.

You're only human so it's okay to make mistakes, you don't need perfect grammar or a perfect plot to write a story.

You're asking about other peoples opinion?

What about them?

They're not writing you story, they don't pay you to entertain them, they can't dictate what you want to write so why care about their opinions.

Yes they're readers but that's just it.
They read because they want to be entertained and not because they want to write.
It's either me misunderstanding what the op said, or it's about me misunderstanding what you said.
Perfectionism has ruined his life because he never achieves the so-called perfection. That's why he keeps rewriting novels, deleting them, and so on. Because he thinks he didn't achieve the said perfection. Perfectionism isn't a perk it may as well be a problem. And due to this, he can't write anything for a long time.
I'm someone who can be overly committed to writing a single novel, edit it over and over and over again till it's perfected.

There's this novel I've tucked away for so long, the first novel I've uploaded in Webnovel, got like 35,000 views because of its clickbaity title and cover. Zero rates. Zero reviews. Just imagine them reading the first chapter then dropping it abruptly.

Then I deleted it.

I wrote novel after novel and couldn't finish anything. The only thing beneficial to me was that my writing skills had improved a bit.

After doing like ten unfinished novels, I came up with a funny thought.

Why not go back to your first novel and finish it?

I convinced myself: Let your first novel be your worst one.

I told myself that it was okay to publish it even if it's bad. I just needed the "shamelessness" to do it.

So I rewrote my first novel. Six chapters.

Then discontinued it again.

Sigh.

Okay, Quaoar, why not use the old version of the story and just polish some things?

Right now, I've been doing just that. I brutally killed my darlings.

Some authors successfully delete their first novel and just move on to write a banger of a novel.

I have two reasons why I couldn't delete it:
  1. I asked my friend to illustrate the cover for my first novel.
  2. I fear that if I delete this, it will be also the same for the next one.
Number two is manageable for me, but the fact that my friend gave her effort for this edgy story made me hesitant to delete it because I don't want to feel guilty and don't want to make her feel bad either. It'd be such a waste otherwise.

It's like I'm forced to finish it.

There's no passion left for me to continue this book.

I'm just objectively writing it—without heart.

Even worse, I can't change the characters since they're already drawn.

It's like my novel is whispering to me:

"You can't escape from me. You may have new ideas and write them down passionately, but I'll always be here, staring at you. Come on. Finish me already. What, scared of publishing me because I'm too terrible? You'll be stuck in this loophole forever."

The thing is I've already finished it.

I'm just not too sure whether or not I should publish it.

But I should publish it because I want to be done with it already and have peace of mind. I'm stuck with the mindset of "If I finish this, then I can finally write another one."

I realized, even if it's "perfected," there will still be people who won't like it anyway.
I think you should look into why you want to write in the first place. If it's a hobby, and you want to share the things you wrote, you should accept the fact that there won't be instantly hundreds of comments\reviews. If you are not catering to the masses and write something not so usual, chances are you won't get many readers at all.

If you are trying to write to earn money, well, you can't earn money with absolutely every type of story, you know. If you are a newbie that doesn't have editors and proofreaders. If you don't cater to the masses, then you won't earn that much. In that case, you should try to analyze and perhaps copy other stories. It's not about perfection when you are writing for money.

You should understand why you want to write. Also, you should write for yourself. Don't write for the readers. Write a story that you, yourself, want to read. Commence yourself to writing more than a few chapters. After writing ten or so chapters, release them one by one. Then, perhaps some reaction will follow. But don't get discouraged by the negative reaction. The thing you thought is written badly, might as well be liked by readers.

You can also try to make a limit for editions for yourself. Something like, you can only rewrite a chapter three times, except for the grammar mistakes ofc. Try to fight this feeling of perfectionism and keep your story as is. After getting through the initial stage, readers and reviews will come, and you will be able to look into it more objectively. You will have a different perspective. And that way, you will truly grow as an author.

If you are simply writing stories and then immediately delete them, you aren't getting more skilled as an author. You are getting more skilled in writing, I mean, writing faster and writing with fewer mistakes. You are growing in a technical aspect. You aren't growing in the way of conveying your thoughts, your style isn't changing, and so on. Hope you understood what I meant and it will help you.
 
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CL

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Messages
336
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It's either me misunderstanding what the op said, or it's about me misunderstanding what you said.
Perfectionism has ruined his life because he never achieves the so-called perfection. That's why he keeps rewriting novels, deleting them, and so on. Because he thinks he didn't achieve the said perfection. Perfectionism isn't a perk it may as well be a problem. And due to this, he can't write anything for a long time.
That is half of what I got from Ops post. I still stand towards throwing out any notion of making everybody happy with the story. There are going to be readers who won't like it. They have different tastes and want to consume whatever is to their liking. We cannot be perfect because of this unstable appreciation. We'll be told various reason why what we did was correct or not.

Just look at these replies to Ops post and see the differences. :blob_sweat:
 

Tropic_Panda

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Well, as far as i know, perfectionist will not delete their work. They will working it and never stops until they satisfied with their work. Even if they have to trade their entire life for it.
 

SailusGebel

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Messages
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That is half of what I got from Ops post. I still stand towards throwing out any notion of making everybody happy with the story. There are going to be readers who won't like it. They have different tastes and want to consume whatever is to their liking. We cannot be perfect because of this unstable appreciation. We'll be told various reason why what we did was correct or not.

Just look at these replies to Ops post and see the differences. :blob_sweat:
I agree that we don't need to cater to the readers in most situations. I think that even a hundred-dollar bill is hated somewhere on the earth. You can't be perfect. But, you can strive for perfection. That's why opinion from the side may help.

But when you strive for perfection so much that you basically can't even get to the point of getting a side opinion. You are doing yourself a disservice. It's not good, not normal, not healthy? I guess these are the words. Perfectionism can come in tow with low self-esteem. And there are no shortcuts to curing or alleviating it.
Well, as far as i know, perfectionist will not delete their work. They will working it and never stops until they satisfied with their work. Even if they have to trade their entire life for it.
Depending on how you acquired the said perfectionism.
 
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BenJepheneT

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There are 2 types of idiots in the world.

First is the idiot who knows everything but doesn't understand them and second is the idiot who doesn't know everything but understands them.

Guess which kind of idiot you are.

Definition of perfection, perfection is a lack of flaw or mistakes.

So you saying perfectionism has ruined you is like you're admitting you want to be perfect when there is nothing perfect in this world.

Are you an idiot? You saying you're a genius who does everything perfect?
It's okay to dream but be realistic with it.

Want some advice?

You're creating a story and not a machine, it's okay to make mistakes and flaws. You're not a superman who needs to save lives, you're a writer who entertains people and yourself by creating a world you want other people to see.
You want your characters to be heard, you want them to interact with the world you make.

You're only human so it's okay to make mistakes, you don't need perfect grammar or a perfect plot to write a story.

You're asking about other peoples opinion?

What about them?

They're not writing you story, they don't pay you to entertain them, they can't dictate what you want to write so why care about their opinions.

Yes they're readers but that's just it.
They read because they want to be entertained and not because they want to write.
@Quaoar

As scathing as this guy wrote it, he's not wrong, so allow me to write it in a way that's less prickling to read.

You reached too close to the sun, my guy. You're Icarus, but instead of burning up to a crackling ember you crashed back down as a smoldering heap. You held on to that ambition of perfecting your first child that you've forgot that it's a terminal child that's born with one missing kidney and one too many chromosome.

Face it, your first work wasn't your best, but it's as perfect as it could get. Forget rewriting or trying to improve it: it wasn't going anywhere at the get go. It was your FIRST WORK; ripe with amateur hopes and skyscraping dreams held on by rotting popsicle sticks and dried semen. You didn't have your base knowledge, you didn't have experience, you sure as fuck knew jack shit. It's not just you; it's all of us. The only difference is that you held onto it for far too long. Not even in the sense where you tried to go back to it: you let one failure define your resume instead of building upon it.

If you find yourself unable to finish more than half a dozen novels, you need to step back and ask yourself why you even considered writing the first one? Ask yourself why the hell do you even write? Don't try to self pity nor prop yourself: pit your worst critic against your ego and have em' duke it out. Whatever comes out of the conflict might be your answer. If the worse comes to the worst, this might be the best time to put down the pen and discover other avenues.

But as of now, let it go. Literally start anew. The best thing about being a hobbyist writer on the internet is that at any time, you could just take a break, come back with a fresh email account and start from scratch. Don't look back, but don't forget the past. Take what you've learned and run away with it. This time, let the past BE the past. And for the love of God, throw away your perception of perfection.

It's not perfection you're looking for: it's satisfaction.

You're not looking to make the perfect work, you're looking to make the most satisfying piece of fiction you've ever created. A fucking genius could make the literal textbook example of perfect literature and still claim otherwise, only because they just "don't sit right with the end product".

In fact, what the hell do you consider perfect anyway? Is it the views? If you get a review or two, is that perfection for you? Or is it just an arbitrary line you put for your work as a blur goal you hopelessly clamour to reach?

Be objective: define your success in measurable degrees, or at least make it perceivable. Humans works best if there's an actual goal to be reached. That's why capitalism works so well as an incentive: money has an objective value within society, and are able to exchange for solid goods and services, thus people chase it. The effectiveness and humanity of which is debatable, but that's besides the point. Give yourself an actual thing to chase, instead of lingering on hoping your heart clicks while writing. You might as well hook up opium into your veins as you write because there's no other way for you to be happy with what you're making unless you set a goal for it.

I'll give an example: my own story. I've got pitiable statistics: writing for two years, 6.4k views, 22 chapters, 195k words, 83 readers with only 4-5 of them actually catching up to the updates. I'll be very honest: if I were you I would've quitted at my sixth month. I didn't, because I had other sights in mind. I'm not going to say "I don't chase re/views". Of course I fucking do; who doesn't want validation for their work? I will say that it's part of the incentive to write, and despite being repeatedly disappointed by it, I don't stop, because it ain't my main goal.

My main goal is to blow up is to write something that satisfies my narrative desires. I read a hell of a lot mangas and comics and novels and none of them scratches an itch of mine. Thus, I'm doing it myself. I've ALREADY have a whole story in mind. It's done, planned and plotted complete with scenarios, characters, themes, set pieces that filled three notebooks front to back. All I need to do is write it out. I don't depend on some arbitrary sensation of perfection or wait for the next big BANGER idea or motivation to come. Why wait on something that has as much assurance as your local politicians' integrity? I work on an objective progress bar in which I cross off progressively as I keep writing.

Do I make mistakes as I go? Fuck yes, I do. I don't have the golden fingers that make Muggles fly as I type on the keyboard. I have a jump pad just as big as yours, the only difference is that I don't look back, for better or worse. I know where I want to go, and for me, reaching there is priority numero uno. I'll put the responsibility of the aftermath with my future self; my current objective is finishing the shit I have in my hands now, and that is what I'm doing now.

Create a goal that you can see and measure objectively: don't count on views or ratings or reviews unless you've got a thick face and deep, generous pockets to boot. Your issue is that your idea of perfection depends on a random click that hits out of nowhere, or a feeling that's 'just right'. Forget it, you're never perfect. No one is. You can only be the best version of yourself at the moment. Place perfection on something you can measure, and once you hit that limit, push it further somewhere else.

Remember that you're human. We're not deities or writing lords. We're mortals that burn when flames touch and sneeze when the breeze hits. Know your limits. It is only when you understand your limits when you learn how to break them. Sooner or later you'll find yourself in the same star you've always aspired to reach; not because you were always a god. You just knew how to build a spaceship and get there yourself.
 

morhamza

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An editor told me this once, "Every writer has inherent biases that creates flaws in their stories. Some want to tell the story of a disabled person, but because they are able-bodied they cannot tell the story well enough, or they are disabled and cannot tell the stories of their able-bodied characters without some prejudice. This makes their writing and story telling unique to themselves, and that's is why people read their stories."

In essence, achieving perfection shouldn't be the aim of writing, telling a compelling story in your voice should be your aim. Cut out grammar errors, misspellings and create good enough structure. However, your style will shine through by how well or how poorly your achieve this aim.

My advice to you is to just write. Finish telling your story, then when you've finished, read it over once. While reading, you'll find areas you want to improve, things you want to add and things you want to remove, note those things. Once you've finished reading, rewrite the story using what you've noted. Then, send it out to an editor if you can afford one. That is all.

Don't chase perfection, you'll never achieve it. Chase writing a compelling story, not a perfect story. The flaws in your story make it unique, leave it be. Just make sure the readers will enjoy what they read.
 

witch_sorrowful

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Not to add to the already (considerably) long posts here, it's okay to remain in a world if you're building them well. It's not just okay to write a bad first novel, it's important! It's called a first draft! Writing by its very nature is a considerate activity - you need time. Yet, this process is only viable if you push through to the end. That's the most important thing.

It's not a race. It's not a marathon. It's an ultra marathon that you will complete, and the goal isn't so much as to come first as it is to finish.

Never delete your old work - this isn't actual publishing. This is a surprisingly free storage for all your writing. In essence, once you put something up, keep it up. Costs nothing, and it is free for people to access.

Some writers write differently. You like to revise - make it your strength! Write something, and keep revising till you find peace. Set a deadline that the fifth draft is the final one. Have an actual deadline in your head, and push yourself towards an actual publication like hurry.

People write a lot of words, most mean nothing. Then there are some writers, like Patrick Rothfuss, who continue trudging in their worlds for 14 years before they publish one book. But, it is one hell of a book. There is always risk with such an act - your must be really invested, and there is a chance that people will not read that humongous effort you put yourself through. Tolkien, same thing.

I hope this is practical advice for you. You can certainly create worlds here - and build them up, but your process of revision is sort of counter-intuitive to webnovel publications. I'd advise self revision, and deadlines at which chapters need to be put up. You be your own judge, and find out the taste of people. Write something worthwhile!
 

owotrucked

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The thing is I've already finished it.
If you're finished and you don't know how to refine your work furthermore. You'd better not make another editing pass, unless you want to go monkey strategy and pray for serendipity gods.

I'm just not too sure whether or not I should publish it.
Just publish it to discover the public reception. Worst case scenario, you'll get haunted to make another editing pass :blob_joy:

Edit: I think I went on the wrong topic in my original message. It's in the spoiler tags below.

Applying the concept of perfection in art is the most cursed topic.

From the moment you bring something to existence, you create a compromise.

You can't start a sentence with two words simultaneously unless you are a weeb and write furigana.
Even if you put two brush strokes on top of another, the viewer will only see what's on top of the painting.

Adding a stroke of brush or word to a work doesn't make it better, it makes it different.

Better execution? Tighter narrative economy? Richer anatomy? Complex techniques? Are the readers reacting all according to your plan? Number of readers and views?

Sure you can pin objective criteria to a subjective artwork.

You can tell Picasso that his art is objectively shit according to objective criteria. For instance, grading his pictures according to how well they fit the laws of optics.

You can question his decision to bring unholy disfigured portrait to existence instead of properly shaped faces.

But then you'd miss the point of art.

"What are you willing to compromise for? What are you trying to achieve with your stories?" You'll get lost if you don't take the time to assess your feelings about why you're doing something.

Art becomes perfect in its own right the moment its creator stop fiddling with it and say "alright, it's finished." The creator might revise it later, but that's ultimately their decision that dictates whether his work was representative to their intent.

That's why, no matter the criticism your work receive, you can say "I decided I wanted to make that thing, and you can't do anything about it."

Giving your best at something, at a given time is a great mindset though. After learning many writing tools, I get the urge to go back to my earlier chapters too. That's fine for a works to be revised, as long as you don't disfigure the core intent that created them.

Just release it already and just accept whether the public reception is good or not lol
Tbh I heard published books get edited at least 4-5 times. So if you get zero reviews/feedbacks good luck if you want to achieve the same level of refinement
 
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Motsu

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Ah, perfectionism at its finest. One may truthfully indulge in the endless cycle of creating and destroying, but in order to break free, the conscience must not let the indecisive reign over. What do you fear when you write? What is the point of perfectionism if there is no benefit? Do we erase ourselves when we change because we weren't good enough back then? No. This is simply the path we inevitably take.

We do not exist the classy perfect nor can we reflect perfect writing from commitment alone. Like illustrating, we waste a lot of materials and time to perfect an art. We make mistakes and learn from them before we can move forward. This is the path any perfectionist must take. If you let your mistake waver your passion, then you can't call yourself a perfectionist.

We may change what we've written before, but that's what it means to change. Whatsoever, the past cannot be changed, the same as what you've written even if you edit it a thousand times—your mistakes will still be there. Committing to one book isn't called dedication, it is the fear of moving forward. Accept your mistake and write a new fresh chapter better than it.
 

Pontan

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Setting a limit like: "You can only rewrite a chapter twice!" Could work. You just gotta follow that limit, even though you might get more frustrated than Gorefield waking up on a Monday without lasagna a 15 meter radius.
 
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