Perfect Is the Enemy of the Good

There is an old expression in politics: “Perfect is the enemy of the good.” it means politicians must be willing to compromise to get legislation passed. They cannot strive for perfection. They must be willing to settle for that which does the most good for the greatest number of people.

That adage also applies to NaNoWriMo. Speed is king. Every second one sits and tries to think of just the right word or phrase, the clock is ticking. Writers who face a 30-day deadline to produce a 50,000-word novel simply don’t have the time to strive for perfection.

That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned after Day 6 of NaNoWriMo. There were times when I got stuck during the middle of a scene. What I might normally do if the deadline was not looming would be to walk away from my work in progress for a day and ruminate over plot possibilities or how to best maximize the power of the scene. That is not an option in the throes of NaNoWriMo.

Another lesson is that one must carefully weigh whether to go down a road one has discovered during the writing process. One of the most wonderful aspects of writing a novel are those little surprises that come up. Sometimes it is an angle one had not considered. Other times one might think of a scene out of the blue that fits perfectly. With a tight deadline one must decide whether to pursue these surprises. Will the surprise take the story down a dead end? Is it worth the risk?

These are just some of the thorny dilemmas many writers no doubt face this month. That is what makes this so much fun. One cannot go for the perfect story. It’s just got to be good. At the end of Day 6 I’m at 7,500 words.

How is your NaNoWriMo experience going?

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