Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Resolved for the New Year: Insist on good work

My New Year's resolution list was pretty easy to make. It started and ended with "finish the novel."

In all seriousness, I don't have any doubt that I can finish it this year. In fact, I'll be disappointed if it takes me the whole year. My real goal is to balance being very aggressive about the pace of the work with being very uncompromising in the quality. I know I'm going to be tempted sometimes to say "that's good enough" when my better instincts are telling me that something isn't really complete.

There are two ways I know of that it is likely for me to do that. One way is relying an air of mystery to affect a complexity that isn't there. Another is to insist belligerently that all the material in a section is necessary instead of having the discipline and courage to identify what the section is really about and bringing that out and cutting the rest.

So, I'm confident that I can power through and work every day--I proved that to myself in 2007--and find some kind of path to a complete second draft and third draft or however many drafts are needed. But on top of my good working habits I need to develop the habit of doing good work. The stretch goal for me is holding myself to high standards when I'm tempted by shortcuts.

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