When my elderly neighbour passed away more than a year ago, his daughter took time to mourn. Then she started the task of cleaning up and fixing up, intending to sell the place. It’s a small two-bedroom bungalow, so the likely buyer will be elderly.  The daughter knew this buyer would be unlikely to want to fix things, so she’s trying to do all that fixing ahead of time.

I’m taking away two lessons from this lengthy project.

  1. Don’t wait to fix something that bothers you. Her parents had always planned to update the kitchen, redo the bathroom, paint and spruce up. They would have loved the changes she has made, and in fact the dad had promised his wife a new kitchen when they moved in years earlier. She died before the promise was kept.
  2. Don’t wait for perfection. After the extensive renovations inside were close to being finished (and they have turned out beautifully), the daughter and I were chatting on the driveway. She mentioned that the numbers on the house were crooked and that was something else that would have to be fixed. I just looked at her and said, “Let the new people straighten them if it’s important to them.” She can keep on fixing this little thing and that little thing, but at some point she has to settle for “pretty darn good” or “almost perfect” rather than “perfect.”

You can apply that same philosophy to writing, and in fact to most of life. Don’t put off starting. Keep making small improvements that get you closer to perfection without getting hung up wanting perfection or nothing.