MY MOTHER'S MOTTO…
I've shared the expression "Done is better than good" on this page before, when talking about how how perfectionism can murder creativity. I always credit my mother with teaching me this important lesson — that it's better to have something completed than something immaculate.
I'm so grateful to a friend of this page named Shannon for making this quote up into such a wonderful, shareable illustration!
In my family, we applied this motto to everything in our lives. As my mom always joked, "I get the dishes done faster than anyone in this house…just don't look at them too closely when I'm finished!"
The notion of "Done is better than good" has guided me in my writing life for years — most of all, when I was struggling to write my first novel (which has tear stains on every page, because I was so insecure back then about my work.) There were many times when I wanted to quit, because the writing was simply not as good as I wanted it to be. But I remember one particular day, fighting back against my frustration with a fierce resolve, saying to myself: "I will finish this book, no matter what it takes. Because I would rather publish a mediocre novel than go to my grave with 50 pages of an unfinished manuscript hidden in the back of my desk drawer. Everyone I know has 50 pages of an unfinished book in their life, and I will not be that person. And if critics don't like what I wrote, they can write their own damn books."
So I finished. Good enough.
Even with THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS (which I loved writing and felt I had finally earned the chops to write) there are still flaws in that novel. I know exactly what those flaws are, but I decided not to struggle and waste time fixing them all, because it would slow down my life too much, and perhaps even interfere with the flow of the story, which has its own energy. Think of it like a carpenter looking at a house he has just built, and noticing that the foundation is two inches crooked on one side. Could he tear down the whole house and start again, make it perfect? Sure. But he could also decide, "It's good enough. The roof is sound. The slight tilt is part of the structure's particular charm. Let's move on and build the next house."
I don't want to spend my life fussing over making any one thing absolutely perfect (whatever perfection means, anyhow.) I want to make as many things as I can, taking on as many projects as I can possibly tackle. Each one exciting. Each one good enough. Each one DONE, to make room for the next, and the next, and the next…