Don’t Seek Perfection, Seek Impact

Eric G Reid
3 min readFeb 16, 2024
Perfection is a myth

You may feel pressure as a first time writer to craft flawless prose right out of the gate. To spend endless hours wordsmithing until your manuscript glitters to perfection. But I’m here to tell you — that pressure is an illusion.

When you’re just starting out, perfection is not only an unrealistic goal, but an unnecessary one. Because what readers really want from you is not perfection, but impact. They want to be moved, informed, entertained — not dazzled by rhetorical pyrotechnics.

So give yourself permission to write a good enough first draft. You can always revise and refine things later. But for now, keep your critic muted and let the ideas and stories flow freely from your mind to the page.

The Myth of the Perfect Debut

Even literary legends rarely publish perfect first books. Take Mary Shelley, for example. Frankenstein was her debut novel, published when she was only 21 years old. It went on to become one of the most enduring works of Gothic fiction and spawn an entire genre.

But Shelley was her own harshest critic, calling her famous monster story “a feeble imitation of one that was very good.” She saw only the story’s flaws and imperfections, blinded to the tremendous impact it would have.

Had Shelley obsessed over perfection before allowing Frankenstein out into the world, she may have missed her chance to launch one of literature’s most iconic and influential horror stories.

Flaunt Your Quirks

Rather than hide the things that make your writing unique, find ways to feature them proudly. Give readers a glimpse into what makes you different.

In 1968, Volkswagen ran an ad campaign for their Beetle with a bold headline: “Ugly. Slow. Noisy. Expensive.” Hardly glowing praise! But they understood that imperfection has appeal. Quirks make things interesting.

Your writing likely has its own share of quirks, imperfections and eccentricities. Learn to appreciate them rather than airbrushing them out. They lend your stories texture and voice.

Dropping the Ball Wins Fans

Business speaker Keith Yackey learned this lesson accidentally while filming a video. He was partway through recording when he fumbled his phone. After picking it back up and finishing, he edited out the dropped phone blunder, assuming the flaw would detract from his professional image.

But then Yackey decided to run an experiment. He posted two versions of the video — one seamless edit and one unedited version with the dropped phone left in.

Guess which one got more views and comments? The version where he dropped the phone! Rather than undermining Yackey’s credibility, the blunder made him more relatable. It sparked smiles and camaraderie from viewers who’ve been there too.

What does this mean for writers? Don’t be afraid of the odd stumble or imperfection. Resist hiding behind a façade of cool perfection. Be open about your quirks and flaws — readers will thank you for it!

Seeking Impact Over Perfection

Aim to craft stories that resonate rather than dazzle. Touch readers’ emotions, give them new perspectives, make them laugh out loud. These are the things that will make your book a success.

So give yourself permission to be imperfect, especially when you’re just starting out. Share unfiltered stories that feel meaningful to you. Those are the tales most likely to have an impact on others too.

The thrill of impact outweighs the empty glow of perfection every time!

Eric G Reid

Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on any part of this draft. I aimed to keep it conversational and encouraging for first time writers while making the key points about valuing impact over perfection. Please feel free to provide any feedback!

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Eric G Reid

I'm Eric G. Reid, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Skinny Brown Dog Media. My mission: transform aspiring writers into authors, and help them create an impact