One of the reasons people put off writing a book is because they think it needs to be perfect. If it's not perfect, they reason, they shouldn't write it. And since they can't achieve perfection, they don't even try.
Here's an excerpt from Art and Fear, by David Bayles and Ted Orland, about our unachievable desire to create the perfect work of art:
"The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the 'quantity' of work they produced, all those on the right, solely on the 'quality' of the work.
"His procedure was simple: fifty pounds of pots rated an 'A,' forty pounds a 'B,' and so on. Those being graded on 'quality,' however, needed to produce only one pot--albeit a perfect one--to get an 'A.'
Which group do you think got the higher grade?
I figured it was the group being graded on quality. After all, they had to produce only one pot, and had all the time in the world to do it.
But read what happened:
Came grading time and a curious fact emerged. The works of the highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for 'quantity.' It seemed that the 'quality' group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
To require perfection is to invite paralysis. The pattern is predictable: as you see error in what you have done, you steer your work toward what you imagine you can do perfectly.
You cling ever more tightly to what you already know you can do--away from risk and exploration, and possibly further from the work of your heart. You find reasons to procrastinate, since to not work is to not make mistakes.
Believing that artwork should be perfect, you gradually become convinced that you cannot do what you are trying to do; so you quit. And in one of the perverse little ironies of life, only the pattern itself achieves perfection -- a perfect death spiral; you misdirect your work; you stall; you quit.
If you've been waiting until you can write the perfect book, you'll have to wait a long time.
More important than writing the perfect book is writing the first word. Like making pottery, it's a very messy process. You can't help it. If you want to produce, you have to get your hands dirty. You have to make mistakes. You will make mistakes. But you will also make pots.
If I can help you write your book -- including the first word -- just let me know.
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