I’m not sure if this is a malady common to all writers or the fact that I’m a recovering perfectionist, but I am never completely satisfied with what I have written.
Regardless of how clever my sentence constructions, profound my insights, or delightful my vocabulary selections, there is always that nagging inner voice whispering that it could be better. Of course, sometimes it is not so subtle a nudge, but a vociferous scream, proclaiming, “This is junk!”
Aah, isn’t writing grand?
Given this internal struggle, it’s a wonder I ever complete anything. Yet, I do. The trick is knowing when to stop revising. Towards this end, I have two guidelines that signal my work is done:
- When successive wordsmithing only results in something different but not better.
- When the edit I made today, merely reverses the edit I made yesterday.
When one of these two conditions occurs I know further tweaking is fruitless. It is then time to post the blog, publish the piece, or submit the article. Any additional delay is merely procrastination.
However, there have also been times when pressed by a deadline or resulting from boredom, I stop too soon, before meeting one of these requirements.
Though it is damaging to stop too soon, it is equally detrimental to never end.
One of the learned skills in the art of writing is to know when to stop.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.