Taking a Step Back

We sometimes lose ourselves in the details. We are mired so deep in our projects we labor under the illusion we can do no wrong. This hubris can manifest in material we deem is clean and tidy, so it’s essential we allow ourselves to break away from what we’re working on a bit, so we can revisit it again with fresh eyes. When we revisit the work, we can often see some glaringly obvious mistakes (should they exist) and are refreshed enough to address them without feeling fatigued or overwrought. While we all want our materials out there, you must give yourself the permission to do this. Your work will thank you and, in turn, your audience will thank you. Missing deadlines (even if they’re internal) is not something to strive for and if they’re public even less so, but in the long run your work is judged on its quality not how quickly you took to get it out the gate. Remember that. Hitting milestones on your deliverables is all well and good, but if the results are lackluster you’re not doing anyone any favors. At the end of the day, only you can be the judge of the merit of your work before it goes out for public consumption. After that, it’s far too late.

This sounds like a cautionary tale, but I’ve been reviewing a slew of material. Some is by my own hand. Some is by others. I’ve found varying degrees of work need to be done on all of them. I’m, perhaps, my own harshest critic, and looking over some stuff I wrote nearly two years ago (and knowing more now than I did then), I see some flaws and weakness which need addressing. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but not one laced with arsenic. I know what needs to be done, and the prospect is not as daunting as it may have once been. The important thing is to be honest with your work. If you look it over and now you can do better, regardless if others find it satisfactory, you should strive to do better. I’ll interject a bit of pragmatism into this dialogue and add you need to temper your evaluation with the realities of the amount of effort involved. You’re investing your time, your most valuable resource of all, so you need to be certain it’s worth the projected return. This may sound a bit mercenary, but it’s really not. To move forward, one must make difficult choices from time to time. Knowing when to pause and reflect is always prudent and is moving forward by not moving at all. The key is to not waste effort effecting useless (read superfluous) change for change’s sake. Something, I’m afraid learned only through making your own mistakes and learning to avoid the pitfalls and time sinks inherent in any project.

Do not be deterred from your goals. I know this may sound a bit of a downer, but please don’t take it as such. Each lesson learned is a pay off. Just try not to make the same mistake twice.

Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!

3 Notes on, Taking a Step Back

  1. Taking “a breather” occasionally makes great sense. This sort of stuff takes endurance.

    After all, the fate of writers is to unleash the naked products of their contemplation upon an audience that far too often gripes, whimpers, whines, wails, remonstrates, and engages in excessive expostulation. This can feel a bit like being peck to death by ducks.

    Sorry – was I just whining about that?

  2. This leads into the subject of proofreading before hitting that little “Submit” button. Let’s go with “pecked”, not “peck”.

    This is what I get for being verbose. See how hard it is to get even a short stretch of writing right? Such is life…

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