Anne Lamott says that perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, and I think she’s right. If a person waited until her writing was absolutely positively flawless, she’d never attempt anything. She’d sit in favorite comfy chair and think “one of these days.”
Besides, I’ve learned that flawless doesn’t work anyway because there will always be some Pecksniffian person who will delight in finding what she or he perceives to be an error and tell you all about it…usually in front of other people. Do those types of people get me down? Not really. I just find them annoying and wish like heck that they do some writing of their own. Then I’d come around with my red pen and correct their syntax or punctuation “for their own good.”
But no, I wouldn’t really do that. Why? Because I think that people should help, not hinder and suggest, not criticize. It’s hard enough for a person to step out of her comfort zone without a bunch of naysayers wagging their fingers. Years ago a high school dropout told me that only bananas came in bunches after she heard me excitedly exclaim that I’d seen a bunch of birds on the pier. Some friends and I had invited her to go shopping with us, and I remember thinking, “Huh? Did she really correct me in front of all these people?” I looked and her and simply said, “Ah.”
I’m not saying that writers don’t need correction and assistance. My writing group has filled that bill on more occasions than I can recount. Because of them, I’m feeling more confident about writing dialogue and am less inclined to use “it” without making sure the reader knows what “it” is. They encourage and help rather than discourage and tear apart.
I agree with Lamott that perfectionism can be the voice of the oppressor. At the same time, I think that people just need to “do it” and stop fretting about what other people might say. Oh, and I also think a good, supportive, knowledgeable writing group is beneficial. If one of them gently suggested that I scratch through bunch, I’d do it.