Overwriting Part II: Our Old Friend Perfectionism
How the Quest for Perfection Gets in Your Way
Last week, I outlined a simple checklist for determining if your manuscript is ready to submit for publication in Overwriting Part 1: The Manuscript Readiness Checklist:
Is there a clear argument stated at the start of the manuscript that is supported logically throughout it?
Is the significance of the argument or topic clearly articulated?
Is the manuscript written with the intended audience in mind?
So that’s it! Problem solved. You can finally show the world your darlings and stop overwriting that manuscript. Easy, right? I expect to make lots of money off of my ingenious checklist because you can now answer that million dollar question, “How do I know when my manuscript is ready to submit?"
Obviously, the checklist is inherently complex because, while understanding each element of a submittable-quality manuscript is simple, applying it to your work is much more difficult.
On top of that, many of us suffer from the crippling fear that our work isn't "good enough," and we overwrite because we have unrealistically high expectations for it or low expectations of our own abilities. There's nothing wrong with aiming for excellence, but aiming for perfection for a manuscript that will change the world or is beyond critique is actually counterproductive. Overwriting can be detrimental to our goals of gainful employment in academia, tenure, and promotion.