Writing, from the first dirty draft to a perfectly crafted text and the sweet spot in between.
Neither wanting to put rubbish out there nor being capable of writing perfectly crafted texts, the only option left is to publish something you consider good enough.
What is good enough, though?
Honestly, everything published here is below what I consider good enough. But that's the only way I could possibly write publicly.
See, each time that I check a draft post before moving it here, I always find something I dislike or which is plainly wrong. Confusing phrases, grammar issues, lack of flow and not to mention the countless misspellings and typos sprinkled all over the place. If I still find issues, it is not good enough.
The problem is that I'm good at finding new issues, and can't avoid getting obsessed with trying to fix them all. At some point, the editing process make me nervous because I stop spotting the issues, so I need to let it sink for a while and come back to it later.
The result, the entire thing becomes a never ending task.
After a certain point, while (trying to) fix something, something else breaks. The only thing that makes sense after a certain point is to push the publish button, even though it is not yet good enough.
And right there is the sweet spot for me, when the text is not yet good enough.
Then, as I wrote before, I'll usually go back later, read again, and fix the stupid mistakes I made. Henceforth, it is good enough. At least for me. At least, at a psychological level.
Still, publishing something which was not good enough is a painful experience, every.single.time.
It is painful, even though this blog is read by a handful of people, the majority of which are one-time or occasional readers.
I can afford to do this because I am not a professional writer. Nobody pays me to write, nobody pays me for reading.
In my professional life, I am a writer of a different kind.
Software is less challenging. Formal languages are simpler and less ambiguous compared to natural languages. Functional correctness, in software, is therefore easier to assess (I said easier, not easy).
When writing software, I am even more obsessive. I always push myself to deliver something I consider more than good enough. Being very good at spotting issues, the whole process, from brainstorming new ideas to the software release, is a tortuous one.
The way I experience it, time-wise, is: 99% being frustrated and 1% feeling a sort of accomplishment. Percentages are not accurate, but you get the idea.
There are days when I'm in the flow, but I can't control when it happens and how long it lasts. Most of the time I feel stuck.
I laugh when aspiring software developers picture this life as being chilling out on a Starbucks drinking a macchiato grande, listening to their favourite film soundtrack on ridiculously expensive headsets whilst happily throwing code on their slick MacBook Air. Sometimes they replace the macchiato grande at the Starbucks with a mojito on the beach.
No kids, it is not like that.
Where am I going with all this?
Oh, yeah, the craft of writing, or any other craft you want to develop.
It takes time. It is painful. Yet, it is worth it.
Or it needs to be worth it for you, otherwise you will neither put the time nor endure the pain.
A crucial point people often overlook is the importance of knowing thyself. You must spend the time to understand how your brain and your whole body works, what your belief system is. You won't find that knowledge in a YouTube video or in a post written by a rando on a silent corner of the cyberspace.
Why is all that relevant?
Well, you need that knowledge in order to trick yourself to do the hard work when nobody gives a shit about it (it being you and whatever you do). Having a clear and non-negotiable stance on your craft is of paramount importance, no matter what others (particularly the so-called experts) say.
Whether you write stories or software. No matter if you're a scientist or a pottery artisan. Just do/make your stuff. Don't put out garbage, but don't chase perfection either.
Find your sweet spot. Reaching it should be at least uncomfortable; moderately painful is fine as well.
When reaching such sweet spot becomes easy, move the goalposts. Push yourself, gently but firmly, until the very last day of your life.
Look for role models and imitate what is worth imitating, do not worry about originality.
Do that every day, playfully, and everything else will effortlessly happen as a side effect.