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The Backward OX
01-13-2010, 05:12 AM
Whenever people ask questions about writer’s block, the novel writers here and on other sites have a mantra of “Just write.” This is completely at odds with the way I am inside. I can no more “just write” than fly to the moon. I can no more “just do” anything than fly to the moon. My mantra is to do stuff correctly or not do it.

But I have a word processor. It seems a waste to just let it sit there gathering dust.

So, in what field of writing do you think one’s innate perfectionist tendencies work the best?


Thank you

Judg
01-13-2010, 05:21 AM
Sometimes doing things correctly means mixing the clay before you try to shape it. Just sayin'.

I heard of a pottery teacher who graded half the class on the number of pieces produced. The other half was allowed to submit only a single piece, and would be graded on quality. You got it: the first group produced better work. In order to produce quality, you've got to practice.

But to give an answer to your question, perhaps literary short stories. Precision and quality would be more appreciated there than elsewhere.

aadams73
01-13-2010, 05:22 AM
Non-fiction would be my guess.

But you can't afford not to be a perfectionist with any kind of writing. It's part of the job.

Medievalist
01-13-2010, 05:39 AM
Documentation

William Haskins
01-13-2010, 06:06 AM
Whenever people ask questions about writer’s block, the novel writers here and on other sites have a mantra of “Just write.” This is completely at odds with the way I am inside. I can no more “just write” than fly to the moon. I can no more “just do” anything than fly to the moon. My mantra is to do stuff correctly or not do it.

But I have a word processor. It seems a waste to just let it sit there gathering dust.

So, in what field of writing do you think one’s innate perfectionist tendencies work the best?


Thank you

philosophy.

or porn...

aadams73
01-13-2010, 06:09 AM
Obituaries.

Namatu
01-13-2010, 06:09 AM
Speaking as a perfectionist, you have to recognize that nothing is ever perfect. I don't ascribe to "give yourself permission to write crap," but I do acknowledge and accept that sometimes crap happens. Points for trying. That's the "just write" for me. Acknowledge that it's not always going to be what you want it to be, that sometimes it's not even going to be salvageable. But if you wait for the perfect confluence of events to write, you're not going to get a whole lot done.

How do you learn to do things correctly? Practice. No one starts out doing it all correctly, and nothing is ever wholly correct. Especially when it comes to writing, where so much is subjective.

If you can't relax a little about it, then yeah, like Medievalist said: documentation.

LOG
01-13-2010, 06:27 AM
If you must produce perfection on the first try...it could take awhile...
We say 'just write' because producing the words on the paper tends to be the most common and difficult part.
It's easy to perfect something after it already exists. Think of it as the difference between creating a car, versus using it.

NeuroFizz
01-13-2010, 09:16 AM
Suicide notes.

CAWriter
01-13-2010, 10:35 AM
I've learned to listen to the two sides of my writer-brain. One side is creative and the other is perfectionistic/destructive. I try to compose when the creative side is engaged and edit when the perfectionist is out. If you can wrap your brain around NOTHING being perfect as it's composed, you can work toward perfection in your various versions.

But, if you really want to go for perfect from the start, I'd suggest technical writing. You'd need to find an area where facts are paramount and creativity takes a back seat.

Terie
01-13-2010, 11:25 AM
Documentation

Yes, this. Precision with language and content is critical. Plus it pays well, if you can find a job in the field.

With one caveat: if you really can't write a sentence until it's perfect in your head, forget it. You still have to produce to deadline. I once worked for three months with a bloke who'd been an editor in New York and turned to tech writing. In those three months, he produced exactly seventeen pages of material. I often produce that much in a single day. And funny enough, my work was actually of better quality than his, too!

blacbird
01-13-2010, 12:10 PM
Academic scientific esoteria. This is not a joke. I am engaged right now in completing a large tome of just such stuff. I've published a dozen or so such things over thirty years now. It has its own satisfaction, in the end, but it doesn't alleviate that itch for more creative endeavor, which, perfect or imperfect, I haven't managed to conquer in any meaningful way.

caw

CaroGirl
01-13-2010, 06:24 PM
I'm going to third the suggestion of technical documentation. There's usually only one right way to document a software feature, particularly if you write to a style guide. It's very structured and "creativity" is between limited and non-existent. This is why I must write fiction. :)

Phaeal
01-13-2010, 06:48 PM
Copy editing.

Take it from a former perfectionist still struggling to stay clean: Perfectionism is a trap. Often it's a defense mechanism against failure -- I have to make it perfect, so I'll never get it done and never have to face the dangers of submission. But if I COULD make it perfect, boy, it would be perfect.

I got clean when I entered the Two Step Program:

1. Accept that first drafts are crap.

2. Do free writing whenever stuck. I do mine in all caps, because that tells my brain I'm not REALLY writing now, I'm just messing around and exploring and having fun. This works miracles for me. Great ideas tumble out with the willy-nilly flood of dreck and nonsense. It's like they were afraid to venture forth on their own, the only ones in the spotlight.

Jamesaritchie
01-13-2010, 09:07 PM
Accounting.

mscelina
01-13-2010, 09:13 PM
There's no such thing in creative writing. And there's no such thing as perfect.

Sophia
01-13-2010, 09:18 PM
My mantra is to do stuff correctly or not do it.

But I have a word processor. It seems a waste to just let it sit there gathering dust.

So, in what field of writing do you think one’s innate perfectionist tendencies work the best?

Anything where you have set definitions, with no ambiguity or variation over a reasonable time scale. Technical documentation, perhaps.

In writing fiction, perfectionism is something you have to overcome because you don't have time to be perfect. And even if you should reach it, there will be people who look at what you've written and say it's rubbish.

You do have time to be very, very good. For some readers, it will be close enough to be perfect for them. Is that still not worth trying for?

Lady Ice
01-13-2010, 09:18 PM
Whenever people ask questions about writer’s block, the novel writers here and on other sites have a mantra of “Just write.” This is completely at odds with the way I am inside. I can no more “just write” than fly to the moon. I can no more “just do” anything than fly to the moon. My mantra is to do stuff correctly or not do it.

But I have a word processor. It seems a waste to just let it sit there gathering dust.

So, in what field of writing do you think one’s innate perfectionist tendencies work the best?


Documenting and accounting.

What is 'correct'? You could torture yourself until eternity trying to write something which is 'correct'. You don't even have anything to be correct or perfect if you don't write.

Bubastes
01-13-2010, 09:19 PM
My mantra is to do stuff correctly or not do it.


If that's the case, then it would be impossible to start anything, let alone take risks, because it takes a lot of "incorrect" practice to learn how to eventually do something "correctly." And writing of any kind requires a LOT of practice, with a lot of mistakes along the way. My day job requires excruciatingly precise writing, down to each comma. I never get there on the first draft, and I don't know anyone who does.

If you're expecting perfection on the first draft, especially if you're just starting out, I don't know what to tell you.