So on Monday I talked about the importance of not giving a damn. Today I'm jumping to the opposite side of that argument and telling you to give more of a damn. The truth of the matter is I've gotten lazy in a lot of things lately because I've gotten so caught up in not caring so much. The problem with that is that caring is important in putting out a good product (and I mean generally in life). I've made stupid typos, not reviewed work for errors, and generally not cared about the proper layout of the English language. (I still stand firm in my internet speech of deliberately mess-ups like 'It are me.')
So where does that leave me? Well, it leaves me embarassed when I get called out on careless errors, and regretting not reading over an essay before submitting it. No one will ever care about your work as much as you do. You are the champion of your work and if you don't care enough to read it 300 times until you can nearly recite it from memory, who will?
One of the biggest wake up calls for me was when I got the finall layout proof for The Bone Queen versus The Pulptress. My first thought was 'Meh, I'm sure it's fine.' and I nearly just sent it back without even looking over it. I know, I know. I want to slap past me too for even thinking that. But, I forced myself to sit down and read over every damn page, and you know what I found? A section where the layout person's cat had walked across the keyboard and left a string of gibberish in the middle of the page.
If I hadn't cared enough to read over the proofs, would that have been caught before print? The truth is I don't know. My publisher did an amazing job with edits, but a publisher is handling more than just your book. They're having to care about a lot of books. You only have to care about yours, and that means you care more than anyone else. It was a massive wakeup call for me.
I'm still working on it. I want to write my first draft, do one round of edits and call it done. That doesn't fly for me. (I'm sure there is someone out there that does work for and good on you.) Now, I'm spending a lot of time on outlines then starting a first draft. I'm going to take my time, go at a speed that works for me, and edit, edit, edit before a second set of eyes even sees it.
It's easy to get lazy. You wrote the words, why on earth do you then have to spend months staring at them more? Because you need to care enough to take that time to sculpt those words into the best shape they can be. You need to care about your project more than anyone else ever will because it's yours. At the end of the day it's your name, your reputation, and your words on the line, no one else's.
So don't give a damn when you're getting started but you sure better slow down and care a whole lot once that end comes into sight.