Writing a novel can be a big challenge. You can outline, plan, write notes, read books, and study the craft all day and still feel like something’s missing.
As an INFJ, I know this quite well. INFJs are perfectionists when it comes to themselves or their craft. Instead of being satisfied, something always has to change, has to be better. I have been working on the same story for five years. It’s gone through three drafts, and thousands of revisions. Even now, I’m constantly adding more chapters, taking some out, and sometimes just leaving it for days because I feel it’s just not good enough. Perfectionism has me tied down, unable to just finish. I’m constantly asking myself, ‘When will I know it’s done? When will I know it’s perfect?’
I don’t know. And I never will. But what I do know is it doesn’t have to be perfect. Most authors I know of have said that your book is never finished. You just come to that moment when you tell yourself it is good enough.
No story, besides the True Story, is perfect. As imperfect creatures, everything we do is imperfect. But we don’t have to let that stop us.
How do we break free of perfectionism and just write? It’s not easy. It’s a struggle you’ll have to face every day, but with time it gets easier.
One thing I tell myself every day when I’m writing a rough draft is this quote by Shannon Hale- “…I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”
Remembering this helps me stay focused. I’m not going to pump out a bestseller on the first try. It’s going to stink. But that’s what revisions are for.
The thing you have to remember is you’re not perfect. No body is. No book, no poem, or essay is perfect. The only thing that matters is we are perfect in God’s eyes. He sees us as masterpieces, not as broken vessels. As it says in Colossians 3:14 “And above all those things put charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” As long as we love one another as brothers and sister in Christ, we are perfect. And as long as we believe that, we can believe that whatever we write is good enough.
After all, we do not write for ourselves, but for the glory of God’s kingdom. And without His love, our work will fall flat because it won’t be what God wanted it to be.
So, grab perfectionism by the neck and lock that dark creature away where it belongs. It’s time to stop being perfect for the world, and start being perfect for God.