I was sitting in an online workshop last week. Dozens of other magazine and book editors were present as well as much of upper management, including our CEO. And he made a statement that I’ve been thinking about ever since: when it comes to the Internet, we need to let go of our perfectionism.
Now I’ve always believed that perfectionism is ultimately frustrating, since it can really cripple creativity. But as the editor of a print magazine, perfectionism is always the goal, even if it’s never quite achieved. We hone and polish the magazine to a high shine, send it off to press with a wish and a prayer and cringe when the inevitable typo gets through. It’s an editor’s way to want the baby to be as perfect as possible. (By the way, there’s a wonderful essay on this topic in Salon: Let Us Now Praise Editors.)
But the Internet is fast and loose and free. More casual language rules and no one seems to care if you get lax with your commas or use a dash where there should have been a semi-colon. Perfectionism slows you down. And I have to admit that this is really appealing to the writer in me.
So this is a dichotomy for the writer, isn’t it? All writers are editors, in a sense. And letting go of perfectionism can be difficult.
Are you a perfectionist with your writing? And do you relax your standards when you write online?
As always, I’d love to hear from you, especially all of you busy writer/bloggers out there.
Yours in non-perfectionism.