When is done, done?

Done (1)You come across this piece of advice a lot. It is geared towards getting you to finish whatever it is you are working on. You believe it, so you finish your first draft without editing; just pour it out on the page, get it down until you type those last three letters, E.N.D. Voila! Your complete story.

But are you done (like done-done)?

No. Never. You know you never submit the first draft of anything; you know getting the story down is not getting the story done. To get the story done you edit, edit, write and re-write and edit some more. You do this a couple of times, sometimes with very long breaks in between. Finally, something a lot better than what you first put down emerges.

So are you done now?

Maybe. Or maybe not. Or maybe you are done enough to let the world see what you have written. You send out to beta readers and friends and family. Their feedback comes, and you change (or don’t change) ideas, themes, characters etc. You proofread, revise, send out again, get some additional feedback (maybe). You revise some more and tighten all those loose points. Again, something even better emerges.

You guess now you are done.

But are you? Don’t you need just one more person to read it? Don’t you need to go over it again for the million and tenth time? Don’t you need to check if all those pesky punctuation marks are used just right?

So how do you know when done is done?

The answer: Never.

The truth is there will probably always be something that can be changed if you look hard enough. And this is why done is better than perfect, because as a writer you’re never done. You just have to get to the point where you can accept that what you have down is done.

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