Buried in all the articles about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, a mention about a sign on her wall at Facebook that reads “Done is better than perfect” or some such caught my eye. In the software universe this is the hacker creed in a nutshell, and obviously for Facebook and Facebook wannabees around the globe this mantra works.
For writers, we are constantly torn between the two extremes. Those of us who have been writing for a while, who have a huge pile of rejection slips on our desks, who have reread our early works and cried, we know that polish, rewrite, polish some more is necessary. Call a work Done too soon and it will never get published, and if self published, never get read.
But endless rewrites, when taken too far, also don’t work. At some point we need to let our little birds fly, leave the nest, seek a published home. I let two short stories go this weekend, after some months of polish. Both “Elves in Space” and “Ghosts of the Texians,” two very different stories, left my outbox and flew toward their respective target markets’ editors (or at least slush pile readers’) inboxes.
My favorite word in the whole world is Lagom, the Swedish Goldilocks word–not too much, not too little, just right. We can accept almost done and close to perfect sometimes, even for writing. Get it really, really close to perfect, then stamp it Done and send it out.
PS–This also applies to my day job. I wrote a similar blog today on how Done is better than Perfect as it relates to product design and industrialization.