Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Margaret Atwood

I was scrolling through Pinterest one day and saw this quote. And it was awesome.

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” – Margaret Atwood

As soon as I saw this quote, I pinned it to my “Writing/Blogging” board  for inspiration.

I feel that I often let the idea of “perfection” hold me back from writing, whether that’s through procrastination or excessive editing. Sometimes I’ll wait on a word, turning it over in my head, wondering if it’s the “best” word to use. Then I remind myself that I can always fix it later, I can always change it–and I often do.

It’s a nice reminder to know that even the most successful and brightest writers don’t churn out perfect first drafts either. Over the last few years, I’ve learned that it’s more important to get out ideas quickly in the pre-writing and early writing stages than to mull over small details like sentences and words. The writing process is all about pouring out your feelings, thoughts and ideas. It’s discovery and exploration.

Editing is a completely different ball game. It’s reflection and critical thinking. You have to watch out for the offensive: spelling errors, grammar mistakes, awkward writing, vagueness and ambiguity, clichés, redundancy…With writing, you just have to keep plugging on until you reach the conclusion. With editing, you have to go through an obstacle course just to get a home run.

Part of forming a great writing habit is realizing that perfection doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist in life, so it doesn’t exist in writing either.

Our writing will never be perfect. There will always be critics and things to fix. But there will be something good in there– something that someone will connect with and enjoy.

Getting past the idea of perfection, I think, is half the battle to writing.

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