I think the motto for all writers should be: Do the best you can, put it out there, see what happens, and adjust. I wrote about criticism yesterday, and for a while my fear of criticism was so paralyzing that I believed everything I wrote had to be perfect or else someone might criticize it and I would dissolve into dust. This despite having spent most of my life putting things out there, seeing what happens, and then adjusting. Because whether you’re getting published or rejected, being well reviewed or panned, selling or not selling, this is all you’re going to do. You’re going to see what happens and adjust. No matter how well a book does you’re going to learn from what you’ve written and try to write a better one. It’s what we do. This is why Laura Munson has written so eloquently about success. Once she had “success”, that which she had spent her life craving, she finally saw it was a myth. It’s a myth because it presupposes an end. Nothing ends. We keep putting it out there and adjusting no matter what happens. It will only end when and if we retire.
For this reason, goals can be debilitating. It’s good to use goals as targets for the trajectory of your attention. But I think it’s very easy for goals to become proof that what we’re doing is worth doing, that once we reach these places or plateaus we’ll really know. You already know. It’s worth it. Put it out there, see what happens, and adjust.
After all, the fun of this game is doing the next thing. Everything else has already been done. We don’t want to finish. We want to keep going and going and going. That’s the only pleasure. So we put out, see what happens, and adjust to do the next thing, which is our next pleasure, which is the continuation of life. You no more want to get it perfect than you want to die.
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