What Happens When You Try to Create Perfect Writing

When my kids were a little younger, they used to like a Netflix cartoon called Pinky Malinky. The show was about the adventures of a wonderfully positive and friendly hot dog (yes, a hot dog) and his best friends. I had appreciation for the often spastic nature of Pinky’s situations and learning in most of the episodes. But one episode spoke pretty directly to how trying to be perfect can screw up your creativity and enjoyment of it.

perfect video

In the episode (The Perfect Video), Pinky and his friends make a simple video of themselves. They’re happy. But then they try to “fix” the video to appeal to a wider audience and get lots of views. They even get feedback from all of their friends and spend hours trying to integrate everything their friends wanted. At the end, the video is a mess. It has completely lost the intent and feel of the original, and Pinky and his friends are miserable and exhausted.

The Perfect Video highlights what happens to writers and other creatives when they get lost in the idea of perfect and hand complete control of their product to the audience. Here’s what it can teach you.

Writing is supposed to be enjoyable.

Now, yes, there are some days where I admittedly want to throw my manuscripts into the river. But overall, writing feels like home. I enjoy the sense of authenticity I get when I’m expressing myself in a piece.

Considering your audience and catering to them helps make a manuscript more sellable. But Pinky and his friends were trying so hard to get a perfect video they lost their sense of fun. Even worse, the loss of enjoyment caused friction in their friendship. Assess whether you’re working so hard trying to construct or shape a piece that it stops giving you a sense of joy or satisfaction. If you are, rethink what the priorities truly have to be.

Feedback is yours to take or reject.

Beta readers and professionals are critical to publishing. They can help you consider alternatives, reveal your biases or blind spots, and assist with technical polishing of your writing. But as Pinky and his friends learned, if you try to please everyone, you end up unhappy. You also can end nowhere close to where you intended your piece to be. It’s more than acceptable to say “no thank you” to feedback when you want to hold the integrity of your work and can justify what you’re doing with logic.

Simple can be great.

A complex plot or sequence in a book isn’t necessarily bad. And as someone who grew up reading Hugo and Dickens, I can tell you don’t have to limit your sentences to strictly 10 words or less or abandon compound constructions to get across wonderful ideas and imagery.

But Pinky and his friends discovered that the more they added, the worse the video was. So, even as you consider options, remember the core of what you sat down at your keyboard or notepad to say. Think less about what you could do and more about what’s necessary. If you’re having trouble figuring out why an existing draft isn’t working, look to see if you’ve added in elements that don’t actually have to be present.

It’s OK to learn from your mistakes.

As a writer, you might not know the best way to say what you want to say yet, even if you know your core message. Pinky and his friends were willing to try new things with their video. In the end, they learned that their original version was the better one. So, don’t be afraid to make a tweak and see if it helps or hurts. If it hurts, as Pinky’s attempts did, just admit it and go back to what you had.

Nobody is perfect. And because we are flawed human beings, we’re never going to produce something that is, either. Working with a great writing team can get you pretty darn close. But cut yourself some slack. Writing is a messy art. So, just do the best you can. Remember that imperfect and published is better than aiming for the impossible and never sharing any of your work.

Image credit:
Pexels from Pixabay