Do you seek perfection in your words?


Not long ago I read an article that discussed writers’ incessant need for perfection. And the subsequent disappointment we feel when we finally see what ends up on the page. Somehow that pure concept doesn’t translate. Doesn’t get from the special lofty real estate in your head where all things perfect live to this clunky, messy, noisy dusty rock we all live on.

True enough.

The trip from concept to language is definitely imperfect and probably includes lots of fender benders, side trips and a flat tire or two.

But so is the human experience. Imperfection is the essence of human nature, isn’t it?

And I’m thinking that even if we managed to get that perfection on paper, or in a book or a story or some nifty commentary it might not land anyway.

It might be that perfection is something that can’t be appreciated or even understood in this human universe.

So writers curse and bang on the keyboard and spit out some herky-jerky version of that perfection in hopes that there will be some kind of connection. Because that’s the thing isn’t it? The connection from writer to reader. That says, ‘hey I’ve been in your shoes,’ or ‘I’ve seen that, I’ve felt that, I’ve tasted that – sucks don’t it?’ or “Damn, is this awesome or what?’

I don’t know this for a fact but I think we humans are pretty perceptive and those who love to read are well-versed in reading between the lines. And believe me, there is plenty there.

And when it comes down to it, maybe that’s all writers are meant to do – to keep trying – to keep spitting out that perfection inside us in whatever way we can.

I read somewhere that Michelangelo thought the Sistine Chapel was crap. So do I have a chance of perfection? Doubtful.

So how about it folks, do you try to be perfect? Are you forever seeking the perfect sentence, paragraph, phrase or description? Did you get there? How’d you do it? Is perfection over-rated?

Writer Chick

22 thoughts on “Do you seek perfection in your words?

  1. I do relate to this! It’s something intangible and I think we all know it. I believe that what we formulate in our heads will not come out as a whole, or the way we want it. This makes us think that we cannot achieve this ‘perfection’ but undoubtedly someone else might see what we have produced as their version of perfection. It’s difficult to feel 100% good about our own work because we’ll always feel that something is lacking. I guess we just have to live with it and know that we did whatever we could and move on to the next piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey G,
      Yeah, I think the truth (albeit the story) is the thing. Maybe writing is like love. In your head there are choirs of angels singing, but in the real world it’s probably just classic rock playing in the background. Right. 😀


  2. The theory claims that excessive editing – which is, in essence, a quest for perfection – can result in something unnatural and stilted. You know, it’s the old “too much of a good thing…” I like beautiful writing and sometimes I become ensnared in a sentence, but I try to control my impulse to linger. Sometimes, setting an actual time limit on things helps 🙂 Wonderful post, Annie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Ramona,
      I agree with you, we can edit the life out of work in the pursuit of perfection. I wonder too though, that maybe the ever illusive pursuit of perfection is grounded in fear? You know, the old ‘I’m not good enough’ thing? What do you think?


  3. I don’t know if I’m ever seeking perfection. I think the most I’m hoping for is good enough. “Good Enough” for a blog post is different for a short story vs a blog post vs a comment (etc). If I strove for perfection, I’m pretty sure I’d just wind up frustrated and afraid to show anyone anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point, Fred. I used the ‘good enough’ yardstick myself quite a bit, though I’ve tried upping it to ‘pretty damn good’ lately. The trick I think is not let stop you from sharing because that’s the whole point, right? 😀


  4. Searching for the right word (or words): so elusive! On more than a few occasions I have been jealous of authors who are able to craft their words perfectly. For Example, Hunter S. Thompson! I’ll keep working towards writing what I feel…


    1. I agree the right words can be elusive. But I’d be willing to bet even Hunter Thompson struggled to find the right ones too, on occasion. All we can do is keep at it, right? 😀


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