[Please listen for the full message. The following is only a glimpse of the topic … not a transcription]
It’s about progress, not perfection. A friend of mine said that to me and I thought, wow, what a great concept for the writing life. I found out it’s a phrase used in 12 step programs, so I’m borrowing it today for us, for writers.
I’ve discovered I’ve accomplished far more the times I’ve attempted to execute a plan and fallen short than the times I didn’t bother making a plan in the first place. If I set a goal and don’t meet it, I can still look back and see I’ve covered a lot of ground.
I made progress, even though I didn’t achieve perfection.
Let’s say you dutifully sat in front of the computer at the designated time and worked for 45 minutes instead of the hour you intended, because your dad called with a pressing need. You abandon the work, your plans foiled.
Maybe you planned to complete all three of Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages but you only managed to finish one before you got distracted thinking about a phone call you have to make, and then you saw a text come through and you just gave up.
Or perhaps you were aiming for the goal of 500 words each day, but you started feeling sick and thought you’d better lie down, so today you ended up with only 268.
You didn’t hit your goal—you didn’t achieve perfection—but you did make progress. Congratulations, friend! Some people don’t write a single word. What do they have to show for it? Nothing. But you? You have 45 minutes of work, one page of freewriting, or 268 words. And tomorrow you can write more.
If, as a writer, you do something, that’s growth. You’re a little further down the road.
Celebrate progress. Because progress is how you get the work done. Word by word by word.
Some of the resources mentioned in this podcast:
* * *
“Progress, Not Perfection” image created by Isabelle Kroeker.