Why Writers Need to be Imperfect

Put your inner editor in her place so you create something you can improve on.

Shaunta Grimes
5 min readFeb 5, 2019

This morning I read a post here on Medium called How to be Creative by matt richtel that had this one little line that really struck a chord for me.

You can’t improve on something if you don’t let it exist in an imperfect form.

Because YES. This is why I love to edit. This is why Anne Lamott’s advice to write shitty first drafts is a guiding light for me. And I think this is what separates the people have creative careers from the people who just really want to, but think they can’t.

Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

Listen to me. You can’t measure a novel if you don’t write it. You can’t measure anything until you’ve produced some form of it. Even a house, which really needs to be built right the first time, has blueprints that are created and improved upon.

So, I started to think about the thing that holds writers back. Why do I know so many people who want to be writers, but don’t actually write?

And you know what? I really believe it’s the urge to be perfect that kills creativity.

What if I write this novel and it’s not good enough to be published?

Guess what? Go ahead and assume that if you’re writing your first novel it’s not going to be good enough to be published.

Seriously. A first novel, especially the first draft of a first novel, is very, very rarely ever good enough. Assume you’re not Harper Lee and resign yourself to producing a crappy first effort.

It’s okay. Really.

As long as your second effort is better. And your third is better than that. Eventually you’ll improve on your imperfection enough.

But I can’t move on until this sentence is perfect. Duh!

Oh. Yes, you can.

You really can. I promise.

This happens to be my own personal bugaboo. So I don’t let myself edit while I’m writing. Ever.

Shaunta Grimes

Learn. Write. Repeat. Visit me at ninjawriters.org. Reach me at shauntagrimes@gmail.com. (My posts may contain affiliate links!)