My latest book Think Agile, Write Better is in its final read-through, and I’ll be formatting it for e-book next week. This book has been through many edits to get it right, but my biggest challenge lately was to realize that “it’s good enough.”
I’d gotten into an “editing binge” when one pre-reader found some flaws with first third of the book. I went through the suggestions carefully, rewrote them again, kept going, and kept looking for what else to fix. I knew there had to be more to do.
That’s when the same friend read it and said basically “ok, seems solid” which surprised me because I’d expected yet more to fix. I’d gotten into a habit of editing and looking for flaws, not realizing if the book was “good enough.”
It’s easy to get into the zone where you edit, edit, and edit some more. Looking for flaws leads you to find more flaws, and sometimes even imagine them or second guess yourself. You can get to the mental place where your book will never be “good enough” because you can’t recognize it and aren’t even looking for it.
There I was, with what was basically a finished book and I didn’t even know it.
I think there’s a skill to recognizing a book is done, a skill with two facets.
The first facet of the skill is to recognize that a book is good enough on a technical and content level. This mix of organization, intuition, empathy, and technical knowledge is one that a good author just develops over time. I don’t think it’s one you can train in, more one you get to by just doing it.
The second facet of the skill is psychological –to be in the mental space to recognize that a work is complete. Based on the experience of myself and fellow authors, this “skill facet” of being in the right mental space to say “done” is less common than the ability to see the work is done. Many of us have met authors with it what is clearly a finished work that authors clearly can’t stop editing.
I can relate. I still rethink past writing, but there is a time just to realize it’s good enough and move on. If one doesn’t move on, one will never publish what they’re working on, let alone publish anything else.
I’m glad I caught that moment of being in the mental space of not seeing “good enough,” as it not only kept me moving but it was also a good reminder to move on.
I might not know what’s next, but at least I know there will be a next. All because I could say “good enough.”