This is the story of how I became an Anti-Perfectionist, and how it actually improved my work as an editor, writer, and coach.
Sound like your jam?
In addition to being an editor and writing coach, I’m—big surprise—a writer myself. I started out in prose but I have a special place in my heart for playwriting, probably because I’m also an actor.
Why theatre? I love the spirit of rehearsal.
If you’ve ever been in a rehearsal room, you’ve probably seen the wall-to-wall mirrors, bookended by black-out curtains. The first thing a director does before an acting rehearsal is Close Those Curtains.
This is not the time to be checking in on how we’re doing. This is the time to look funny, speak spontaneously, and fail spectacularly.
We don’t learn lines, we learn thoughts. We don’t self-correct, we exist in the ever-advancing Moment.
You don’t need a mirror for that.
The most valuable lessons I learned as a writer, I learned in a rehearsal room.
So how the heck did I start editing novels?
My developmental practice started as far back as 2013 when my first play was workshopped at Berkeley Repertory Theatre as part of a New Works Program.
Since then, I’ve been writing and workshopping projects among peers, mentors, and other editors, totaling a decade of developmental experience.
My fancy-formal editing career started in 2018, when I was hired as a proofreader for a theatre publishing house, editing for all kinds of authors, from new names to Pulitzer Prize–winners.
I thought it couldn’t get any better—editing and formatting plays on the daily while running to rehearsals after work and occasionally covering shows all over NYC to review for acquisition.
The dream, right? Read on.
I burned out real quick, believed Proofreading was a practice in Perfection, and drank the Gatekeeping Kool-Aid, which marked some authors as “worthy” of the company’s time and some, not.
Despite the new abundance of free time, I found that the last thing I wanted to do was write. I was so frozen by my own Impossible Standards—the same standards I imposed on other authors—that writing became a source of Anxiety, not Fun.
Each day I didn’t write, the same question gnawed at my brain, while I plugged away at my now-remote publishing job.
Who decides whose story is worth telling?
So I regrouped.
I put all my major writing projects on pause and started a bullet journal. I completely redefined for myself what counted as creative time and discovered a rich, new, flexible writing process that—shocker—actually made me happy.
Most importantly, I set fire to all those old ideas about “good and bad,” “worthy and unworthy,” “perfect and flawed.”
I closed the curtain. And could breathe again.
I stopped working for the publishing house and started my own business, helping other authors find joy in their work and confidence in their words, without sacrificing the amazing quality their books deserve.
No more Impossible Expectations, no more Formulas, no Gatekeeping.
And so as many stories go, this one ends how it began.
What I learned from the rehearsal room, then forgot, then relearned, now guides my process as an editor and writing coach.
I call myself an Anti-Perfectionist Editor. With the understanding that this does not come at the expense of amazing, polished creative work.
Our best work comes when we give ourselves permission to be Imperfect. When we let go of standards that only pigeon-hole us into categories that don’t befit creative writers, and when we accept that no one has the power to Admit our stories into the world, except ourselves.
We on the same page? Let’s chat, fellow rebel.