“Strike three!” I need an umpire to stand beside my desk and look over my shoulder. When I reach the third time reading through a scene, he would yell, “You’re OUT!” Write it, read it through, change this and that, read it through again, change this and that, read it through, fix the stupid stuff…. “You’re OUT!”
“You can’t throw me out.”
“Why’re you still here?”
“This is my book! That wasn’t a real change I was making, I was just fixing one word.”
“Get off the field!”
My epiphany for this week is that I allow myself to “read it through” too many times while I’m writing the first draft. If you’ve ever had a hamster, rat, mouse, or gerbil as a pet and watched your pet churn that exercise wheel, you can imagine how little progress I make when I get caught in the loop of tweeking and fixing, refining, perfecting, and polishing. One of my favorite movies of all time is Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray as a man who must relive Groundhog Day until he finally gets everything right.
In my current mode, I’m doomed to relive each scene until I finally get everything just right. If I had an umpire to yell me off the plate, I would move on to the next scene much sooner.
Back in my EDS days, in my former life in a galaxy far, far away, decades ago when I still wore skirts, hose, and pumps everyday to work, I had to go through this thing called “Phase II,” an intensive boot camp for programmers. Sounds like Star Fleet Academy, right? My class of 22 candidates graduated 11. For each project in Phase II, a candidate had three times to compile his/her program. If the program failed to run perfectly by the third compile *insert the sound of decapitation by sword here*, you were gone. Forever. No longer employed. I’m not kidding.
You’ll be pleased to learn I retired from EDS after a decade of service aboard several Federation ships. We successfully defeated many incursions by Romulan forces during my tours of duty, and I lived to tell the tale. In honor of that strange time in my life, here’s the link to their most famous commercial: EDS Herding Cats.
EDS Phase II had the right idea as far as writing the first draft. Three times through and that’s it. I said all of that to say I’m changing my ways:
What’s your best strategy for avoiding perfectionism during your first draft?
I’m on a Monday to Sunday work week, and I only post accumulated word count on Sunday evening.
*Sunday only – Word count as of today is 71,218 (as of 10/07/2012)
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