As a freelance writer you definitely need to do high-quality work, but you need to know when to avoid perfectionism and stop working on an assignment, a story, or a blog post and call it good enough.
There’s a saying I’ve encountered many times, a variation on a Voltaire quote: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
Now this is a delicate point. You definitely need to make sure you’ve done a great job, but too many writers go over and over their words making minute changes that result in only marginal improvements, and sometimes they actually make things worse.
Perfectionism, Time Management, and Productivity
Avoiding perfectionism is a key time management skill that will dramatically increase your productivity. It will free up lots of time for you to work on other writing projects or devote to other important areas of your life.
Perfectionism and the Freelance Writer: An Example
I once wrote an instructor’s manual for a brand new textbook, probably about 50,000 words. Typically I would write a section and then immediately edit it. I’d also give it a quick read the next day.
When I was all done, I read through the entire manuscript one more time. It took several hours for the final read-through: I only made a couple of minor changes in wording and found maybe one or two missing commas. Since then I no longer do the extra round of editing, and I save myself a lot of time and energy.
How has perfectionism affected your productivity and your writing? How do you determine how good is good enough?