Paralysed by perfection and permanence

On a recent project where I was the writer, editor and project manager, I encountered a form of writer’s block and delayed both starting and finalising the project. There was a lot of thinking but it took time to get on the page. This was largely due to the nature of the project – a set of interpretive signs intended to be public, permanent and difficult to change. Of course, I wanted everything to be perfect.

Editors strive to improve text and clearly communicate the right message for the audience. But just as there is not always right and wrong in editing, perfection is not always the right goal. In the end, it was an external funding deadline that prompted progress to completion. The signs are now designed, produced and installed – and I am happy with them.

Be aware of your own possible blocks to writing and editing and think about how to overcome them. Be realistic about what is achievable within a certain time and budget, and given any other priorities.

At the recent workshop I delivered for Editors NSW on the business of being a freelance editor, a thoughtful attendee commented after a packed day of content on business practices that we should “be kind to ourselves”. It was a timely reminder for all about the nature of writing and editing.

Don’t be paralysed by the thought of perfection and permanence:

  • make a start
  • improve it
  • be realistic
  • know when to stop
  • be kind to ourselves.

See my related post on Is there right and wrong in editing?

Please contact me for inquiries about editing on rhdaniels@bigpond.com

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