Once upon a time I worked in a lovely place where I negotiated a four-day week. The reason I chose to give up a fifth of my precious salary was so I could stay at home and write for one whole beautiful day a week.
Because I didn’t want to be in the lovely place long-term. Because I knew I was meant to be a writer. Because then I could have a perfect writing day every week.
So Mondays were my writing days. I had at least five years where I didn’t work on a Monday. That’s 260 days – I checked. In that time, would you like to know how many novels I completed?
None. Not a single one.
Never mind. It’s not easy writing a novel. (Fun fact – Ladies of the Club took Helen Hooven Santmyer over 50 years to write!) So – how about how many writing projects I completed?
OK. What were my other achievements from my Mondays off?
Yup. We’re still at none. (Unless shopping and daytime TV count? No. Didn’t think so, but worth a shot, eh?)
And why didn’t I achieve anything? Because I hadn’t learnt probably one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learnt.
Done is better than perfect.
Do you know how long it took me to get the format and first draft of Coping with the Horroffice done? A month. One month. ONE. That’s only thirty of my precious Mondays off. I’d still have had 230 left to play with! Numerous redrafts later, it’s still not perfect but it is done. Done enough to be ready for a copy-edit. And that’s four months down the line, some of it whilst in a full-time job.
It all changed when I realised that waiting for inspiration wasn’t getting me anywhere. I was always waiting for the perfect day, the perfect time, the perfect story. And it never all came together. it’s possible that if I waited long enough it would have happened. But how long would that have taken? And then I’d have to wait for the next perfect moment to move things on.
When I sent my book out for feedback I realised that most people don’t see the imperfections I see. Yes, there are things they raised, that I needed to work on. That’s what feedback is for. But the point is it was feedback on something I had done. In their eyes the book was completed, ready, it just needed some tweaks.
It was the same thing with the garden (on a smaller ‘life-story’ scale obviously!) – (check it out here). I spent ages waiting for the perfect day, or for a perfectly affordable quote, or for a perfectly free day. None of those things happened and my garden was a no-go zone for over four months. The whole of summer. Yesterday I finally did it myself. It’s messy and there’s more to do but it is done. The pooch and I can now wander around the whole garden not just the outskirts. Done is better than perfect.
So when you look at what’s important to you, is there anything you can just get done, even if you know it’s not done perfectly?
Because done is better than perfect, and perfectly undone is worse than useless.