As we learn to leave well enough alone

Column Post by Lakin Easterling

You know that feeling you get when something that hurt you, something that left a scratch or a burn or a gash, starts healing? That constant itchy, uncomfortable, reminder that something didn’t go the way you planned? By a show of hands, who likes that feeling?

I sure don’t. If you do, please teach me how to have patience with it, because it’s so hard to not just scratch at the itch, rub that scab away, try a million different things to make it better, or at the very least make it not as noticeable.

I feel like this happens to my writing quite often. I love writing. I love creating something with words. But I do not like drafting. Not even a little bit. I know that teachers and writing pros will forever say drafting lets you “get it all out”, letting the worries about editing and fixing it all come later. The point isn’t perfection; it is just to make a start somewhere and to write until you have nothing left.

This gives you the opportunity to look over your ideas, glean even more ideas, and then start ordering them in a way that makes sense. You can revise your draft, fixing grammatical errors, punctuation mistakes, spelling errors; you can indent paragraphs, take out words, and add new ones. You get to make it perfect.

But here’s where my struggle is. I want everything perfect, all the time. I don’t like drafting because I’m not supposed to backspace; I’m not supposed to edit, or condense, or do anything other than write. See, I am always striving to be the best at everything; I am a perfectionist to my core. Naturally, I want my draft to be as near-perfect to my finished product as possible. Because if it’s perfect from the get-go, that makes it better, right? If I don’t have to revise as much, or at all, doesn’t that mean I’m better?

Who, in real life, is ever perfect, all at once?

Who gets things right the first time, or the second, and rarely has to revise or work on or edit any part of her life? I think everyone drafts and edits, and it’s a shame when we think that makes us weak. When I think it makes me weak.

It takes a strong person to look at something broken, messy, and incoherent, and find the good that runs through it. It is a courageous effort to grab onto that goodness, and keep holding onto it.

It takes a lot of patience to not pick at those healing places. To not backspace, blot out, or refuse to talk about what’s broken, but to instead leave it all to the slow and steady process of becoming whole and good. I believe our drafting process should be celebrated. We are beautiful things being created out of a world of mess; it is hard, but it is also glorious.

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P.S. We’d love to know your thoughts, so please be sure to comment below. Each of our commenters will be entered in a drawing for our current FREE book giveaway, Mothers & Daughters: Mending a Strained Relationship by author Teena Stewart. 

Lakin Easterling is a wife, mother, writer, and avid reader. She spends her days chasing her toddler, Belle, and conversing with the elderly who are afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia. She loves surprise coffee dates with her husband Luke, texting novels to her best friend, Laura Hyers, and being a college student. She dreams about being brave enough to get a tattoo, and believes in the healing power of a good cup of coffee. Her favorite nail polish is Sail Away by Milani. She blogs at http://threadingsymphonies.wordpress.com.

Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)

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