"The perfect is the enemy of the good."

Voltaire said that. But why?

Isn’t perfect… well… perfect?

In a word, no. Perfection is an abstract concept which is unattainable by humans, who are, by their nature, imperfect.

The pressure of achieving perfection is the root of procrastination. (I’ve given the matter a great deal of thought, because I have a problem with perfectionism. I’m constantly working on it, because if I solve it… I’ll be perfect!)

Perfect has no place in writing. Excellence does have an important place, and that is what we strive toward. Excellence can only be achieved by striving, which means it takes several tries, building on a foundation from okay, to good, to darn good, and maybe, excellent.

Perfect, like Godot, never arrives.

In my teens I was discouraged from writing because my stuff was awfully bad. However, I realized that it was bad because I didn’t work on it. I powered through some bad stuff, and discovered that while practice does not make perfect, and cannot, practice does make improved.

You do that long enough, and one can approach excellence, even achieve it.

The Voltaire quote, “The perfect is the enemy of the good,” must be kept in mind all through the first draft process. This, for me, is how the book grows. It doesn’t matter that I’m in first person here, and third person there, and this doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Driving through, to the end, is the only way to have something to edit.

So drive through to the end.

Because having something to edit is the only way we can strive for excellence.