Am I the only one whose heart speeds up whenever my cursor nears the submit button? In the five minutes before, that moment I can be perfectly calm, confident, even, that my paper is finished or at least sure that there’s nothing more that I can do. Yet, facing the prospect of finally submitting my piece, I feel a burst of panic. It is then that I question almost every aspect of my paper and every choice I made, searching for weaknesses and inevitably finding or inventing them; I find myself thinking if only I just had a little more time. I could rewrite my entire paper or at least reread it once more to make sure there aren’t any typos. I could make it perfect.
This is of course delusional thinking; there is no such thing as a perfect paper. Writing isn’t like math, where there is a single answer. There are many answers, which can all be radically different but still excellent. There are many methods, which all can create a great result; some are more successful than others, sitting in a quiet room, making an outline, following a fluid structure of claim, evidence and interpretation, but I’m sure that there is someone who actually succeeds in writing beautiful, argumentative papers without any planning while watching television, texting, and eating chips. I just know that person is not me. Lord knows, I’ve tried to be that person.
So, it’s a matter of writing a good enough paper, one where you’re confident enough to press that submit button and let go. I have a philosophy that at a certain point, I can only make small changes that don’t really make a difference or I can completely gut my paper and rewrite it, undoing every choice I made. That is the point I turn it in. I suppose it’s about commitment to my writing and confidence in my skills. Yet, I still wonder, what if I made those big changes? What if the changes I think are small, would actually make a difference? At that point, however, those huge changes would be half-baked, without enough time to execute them. As for the small changes, I grow weary of reading my own writing.
To be honest, I don’t have any conclusion on this issue. I know other people struggle with not having enough time and go straight up to the deadline. Other people confidently click that button. Sometimes it’s not whether or not you’re confident with an essay but whether or not you have five other things to do. Yet, I think or at least hope (selfishly) that I am not the only one who doesn’t know when to let go of an essay. How do you guys know when you’re done with an essay or other work and it’s time to turn it in?