For much of my life, I have struggled with the tyranny of perfectionism. Thankfully, when I was just starting my writing career, I happened upon Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life and this advice:
Perfection is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a sh***y first draft. —Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, p. 28
Writing crappy first drafts freed me. I no longer waste time worrying if the first draft will be perfect. I know it won’t be. Instead of ruminating, I write.
Recently, I started running. I am slow, but I like the challenge. I’ve noticed that most runners do not agonize over each step, wondering if they are doing it right. That would be silly. No one can analyze a race and run it at the same time. Runners put one foot in front of another, moving quickly (or slowly, in my case) toward their goal.
Writers can learn from runners. Don’t think so much. Just move forward. Get the words down on paper. You can fix it later.