How do you define done?

As the due date creeps closer something I keep wondering how I’m supposed to know when it’s done. I’m doing a series of short pieces so am missing some of those traditional markers of done-ness like a certain length, fully developed characters, a beginning, middle, and end, a conclusion, etc. I also have the thought that maybe I don’t have enough pieces, maybe I should add one more and then one more leads to two and so on. There’s always something I can add, it’s just a question of if I should. It was nice to have the freedom to create our own projects and to set a rubric for ourselves but it can be hard to know when you’ve met your own personal standards.

I’m typically the kind of person who works right up to a deadline. The perfectionist in me screams at the thought of submitting something more than a day before the due date because it can always get better. In some instances, like applying to jobs, this is not the right mindset. When I first started writing cover letters it would take me days analyzing the smallest details and word choices. I realized this was holding me back because often the sooner you get it in the better. Once a job posting even disappeared from a company’s page before I got the chance to submit it.  Though this project doesn’t have that same sense of urgency to it, I’m falling into that similar trap of not knowing when I’ve done enough re-reading a tweaking to be satisfied.

So, I’m trying to find a definition for “done” that isn’t just when it’s due.

One thought to “How do you define done?”

  1. Hi Elana!
    I definitely get your struggle with not wanting to turn something in until the last moment, because then it feels like you really did the best that you could and the rest is up to fate. I think focusing on the thought that your writing can always be better is important to become a better writer, but in some cases, that isn’t the point. People are going to read your work and it’ll make them think about what you’ve written, not what else you could have written. Instead of adding more stories, maybe expand some of the shorter ones to include those elements that make you feel like they were written better than before. Once you’ve achieved that with each one, do they all feel cohesive with each other? I ran into a similar situation with my project where I felt like I wanted to incorporate more and more, exposing more sides to the situation than what I was already seeking to do. In the end, it was going to skew the tone and argument of my project in a totally different direction. In my case, adding more stories won’t benefit the project as a whole. Once I realized this, I felt okay not adding as much as possible into my project. I hope this helps you to think about it this way!

Leave a Reply