I don’t do “perfect.” Perfection is so overrated (not to mention pretty much impossible).
Instead, I shoot for “good enough.” Not in all aspects of life, of course – just in the things related to creativity. Or, more specifically, I don’t sit by my computer waiting for inspiration to strike, so I can write the most on-point essay in the history of clickbait articles.
I just write. If it’s “good enough,” I publish. If not, I scrap it and try something else.
Growing up, my mom used to tell me “all you can do is the best you can do.” As a child, that was exactly what I needed to hear. My parents never rode me about my grades or told me they thought I just wasn’t trying hard enough. My parents are remarkably chill people.
But I’m not nine years old anymore.
So I’ve changed my motto from “all you can do is the best you can do” to “‘good enough’ is good enough for me!”
And really, I like this motto much better because one of the sad facts in life is that most of the time, it really doesn’t matter how hard you tried.
“Trying your hardest” isn’t always good enough.
“Good enough” is the only thing that is good enough.
Recently I published a comic book. I worked really, really hard to get it published. And, in an ideal world, I would still be working on it, making it just a little bit better every day.
But this isn’t a perfect world and eventually I had to accept that the book was “good enough” and move on. In fact, as I’m typing these words, I’ve shipped out all 300 books for Kickstarter and am starting on people’s personalized comics. I’m also about 60% done with book number two, with a tentative release date in February.
And looking back, there are a couple things I would like to change in that book. Some of the comics (especially from when I first started) are pretty crappy. I wish I had made the text a bit larger. I should have added about 10 more comics. I’m not 100% satisfied with how the cover turned out. But… it’s good enough. And hopefully, book number two will be even better.
I will never be able to achieve perfection in my writing. I constantly make grammatical and structural mistakes. I jump between topics. My posting schedule is erratic, at best.
Nonetheless, my blog is “good enough.” The book I just published was “good enough.” The comics I draw are “good enough.” The content I create is “good enough” – and trust me, if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t publish it.
At some point, you just have to let go… knowing full well you might look back in a couple years and be embarrassed by the finished product. But that’s life. And like I said before, if I strove for perfection, I would never get anything done.
Most of my blog posts are written on the fly, at a crowded cafe or in between meetings. Most of my comics are written while watching TV or taking a break from “real work.” My first and only comic book was self published – and the road to self publishing was full of countless mistakes [I wish I would have emailed that company earlier, I wish I hadn’t included that comic, I wish I had time to re-draw this comic, I don’t like the flow, I should have included page numbers, the list goes one…].
There’s also a flip side to this, though. If something isn’t “good enough,” don’t you dare publish it (or you will only regret it later). And I’m not talking about “Oh man, my drawing style is so awkward… I can’t believe I posted this!” or “Wow, and I used to think this post was good!”
What I mean is if you’re not proud of it now, if you don’t think it’s “good enough” for someone else to read/look at/use/etc, know when to cut your losses and throw in the towel.
Most people don’t realize that this wasn’t my first time trying to publish a book. Back in March, I started writing a book about “How to Survive a Long Distance Relationship.” I interviewed a little over 10 couples and wrote up about 60,000 words. I tried my hardest. I really did.
In the end, it wasn’t good enough. I put the book aside for a month, so I could gather my wits. When I read it again… I was deeply disappointed with the structure, writing, and content. I had tried my hardest on this topic, but it wasn’t “good enough.” So rather than try to salvage it, I let it go.
Sometimes, as an artist, you have to kill your own creations.
Tons of my blog posts will never see the light of day. I have about 20 comics I’ve drawn but won’t ever publish, because I think they’re boring, stupid, or pointless.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how much of my heart I put into something. If it’s not “good enough,” I’m not going to publish it.
Perhaps in a couple months, or even a couple years, I will take another stab at that Long Distance Relationship Book. I might still hate it. I might find a way to “save it.” I still have the manuscript on my backup drive, along with all my other abandoned projects.
But in the end, it doesn’t really matter. I would rather be relaxed and having fun constantly creating (what some view as) sub-par content than stressing and striving for a (probably) unattainable “perfect.”
What about you?