The Perfection Intervention 24-Hour Book Challenge

The Perfection Intervention bookcoverIt is 4:40pm and I’m stuck in bed with a strained ankle. I had a total of 5 hours of sleep last night, so maybe that has something to do with the crazy notion I’m having.

This article will be different from any article I’ve ever written. I’m live blogging my attempt to pull together a draft of my notes-in-progress zero draft for The Perfection Intervention.

Am I an idiot? Quite possible.

This has me scared out of my wits. Not that I was probably in my wits when I decided to do this a few minutes ago.

I have no prep. About three pages worth of notes and a pretty cover I put together while I was supposed to be making more notes. I don’t have any emails or announcements written for this post. IT’S ALL GONNA BE FROM SCRATCH.

And when I’m done, you’re going to be able to get the imperfect result. No editing. No proofreading. I‘m laying it out there.

And I know I’m not in top shape for this. I’m not going to pretend I am. I will need to (try to) go to bed at 10:30. (Update: That didn’t work, but I tried!)


I am holding my own Perfection Intervention. The book might be about avoiding wordy perfection, but we don’t always get to wait for ideal circumstances to write and maybe I should include a chapter about that too.

Alright, I need more water, then I’m going to get to it. After I publish this and send an email. Cuz I’m stupid like that.

5:23 Watch me lose my notes. Just watch me.

5:25 ‘Kay, found them. Apparently Google Docs does not work like Google Drive.

5:43 I like this line. “Sometimes our minds just need time (spent working) to spiral in on clarity.”

5:53 I’m jumping around, organizing ideas as I expand on them and my mind relates it to a point I need to make on another tip. I also just noticed that I seem to like the third minute. 23. 43. 53. Hm.

6:14 Themes are my focus right now. I’m summing things up right off the bat with the best quotes from my notes. For example. “Your first draft is your imagination’s private journal.” I like it. Good enough for me.

Notice I’m not focusing on word count. That trips me up and slows me down. I talk about this in one of the sections I haven’t expanded yet.

6:32 Eating while writing. Win.

6:48 Talkin’ about process. You got yours, I got mine, ain’t no need to push a square into a round hole. (That is sooo not in the book. Well, not like that anyway.)

7:07 Moving back toward the beginning. Hitting the pitfalls. Wishing for chocolate.

7:25 Tangent alert! To cut or not to cut? Hm. Leaving it for now. Note to self: this is about the process of writing and the concepts behind the process, not the craft of writing.

What do you think? Do you want bits of craft in a book about how to defeat your need for perfection and get a first draft done?

7:46 Stretch break! If I don’t move right this moment I might turn into a petrified statue. The book would not get done and my cat would not get fed. (You KNOW which is the worse travesty.)

8:12 I’m on my 4th glass of water since starting. Who drinks that much? Who? Also, the struggle to focus has begun. I’ve been working on something or other all day, and I’m running on 5 hours of sleep, with a sleep debt from the last few nights. Thank you, ankle and overactive brain. You’re a wonderful team.

Nah, I’m fine. Just need something to draw my mind back into the Perfection Intervention flow. Looking for a fun hook now. Anywhere will do.

8:22 I’m feeling it. Treat each draft as a prerequisite to reach later drafts. You can’t climb the last stair before you climb the first.”

8:53  Ha! “Don’t leave your creativity fairy chained in the Dungeon of Taking-It-Too-Seriously.”

9:17 It’s about time to move again, and I should probably shut down for the night. But here’s one of my favorite tactics to round out the night. “Have a place for questions that you ask yourself.”

G’night. See you in the morning.

Live-blogging the writing of The Perfection Intervention6:30ish Start thinking about writing. I knew I would be up early with this. (Even though I couldn’t get to sleep til 1:00. Hm. Probably going to need a nap today. Estimated chances of making the 24-hour deadline: 36%.)

6:45ish Get out notebook and list things that must be done before I can call it a day: find overarching metaphor, outline chapters I haven’t already started, finish intro, write conclusion. Nevermind, the metaphor is staring me in the face. “Your first draft is your imagination’s private journal.” There we go.

6:50 Get out my computer, shoo cat off notebook. Eh, let her stay. I have my computer.

7:28 I feel the need to explain that the point of this challenge is to have something at the end that will be complete enough to do its job, but it’s allowed to have parts missing for now as long as it can solve the problem of perfectionism. This “Cut the Ballast” approach is NOT applicable to most fiction. Flash, maybe.

7:42 Have reclaimed my notebook. (She decided to lay elsewhere.) Pulling up my notes on how to write a good conclusion.

8:36 Stretching and breakfast break. My notes are starting to get pretty thin.

9:25 Craft Notes are now a thing.

9:34 Telling note on the nature of my process: half my notes have slimmed down during the transfer to the real draft. Clarity is concise, but man it makes for a short draft.

Also, my arms are starting to hurt. This setup is NOT ideal, thank you dear ankle.

10:10 Wooziness is setting in. Perhaps it’s time for that nap. After a stretch. Did I mention that Health Notes are now a thing? Okay, there might only be one, but it’s IMPORTANT.

12:48 Up from my nap, and I gave myself an aloe face mask to wake up and relax. I’m becoming increasingly stressed by how little time is left, so I’m going to make an extra effort to unwind and write happy. Plus, five hours is nothing to sneeze at.

Back to that conclusion.

Gratuitous cat photo.1:12 SMILE BREAK! I set a timer for this, and now I’m going to smile and (sort of) dance for at least 30 seconds. Stress reduction!

1:38 Writing while eating, third meal in a row. I’m hardcore. Yup.

2:03 I really hate when I have two things to say and I can’t get them written fast enough, so I forget the second one. I’m considering adding these as bare-bones notes to my notes document before I write them in the draft. Because seriously.

And thank you to everyone who is sharing and tweeting. It gives me a smile booster!

2:50 Time to get up and move again. I wish my ankle would quit buggin’ me. Oh well. SMILE BREAK!

3:47 Oops. I just realized I’ve been messing with the formatting and making it pretty. Doh!

I guess my brain needed the creative pause.

Forgiveness! Onward, ho!

4:14 The marbles image has a typo. That’s discouraging. And why can’t people politely point these things out? Why does it have to be rude? I’m always polite when it comes to something like that. You never know what someone is going through… except maybe in this case. Ha!

Anyway, I’m really losing steam. There’s no time for another nap, which is weird to even consider. It’s rare that I take even one nap, but my brain has been stuck in high gear for days now and I need to catch up on sleep.

4:21 “What is the perfect journal? What is your imagination’s perfect journal?” Working on that conclusion again.

4:48 Stretching and refilling my water supply. Nope, not quitting.

5:04 Headache and nausea? What is this? Where did you come from?

I think I need a break from staring at the screen, so I’m extending my deadline.

10:24 I’ve been working in snatches for the last few hours, filling in some holes. The headache and nausea faded after a little while away from the computer. My focus was pretty intense, there. For now, I’m heading to bed to make up for several nights’ lost sleep.

I’ll try to get the 24 Hour version formatted and available as soon as possible. Those that grab the first version at a reduced price will get the updates for free.

Monday: I just lost several hours of work on the salespage because the platform reverted despite newer saved changes. I’m going to get ahold of support and see what they can do. Murphy’s law, dears! I’ll get there, though.

Tuesday: They weren’t able to recover my work, but I got it rewritten and now I know to save it elsewhere even if I’m saving constantly. By the way, Gumroad has really great support.

Here’s the plan: I’m hoping to get the 24-Hour version up today or tomorrow (currently indicating coming additions).

And I’m thinking when the full version goes live it will have bonuses like an extra-printable Highlighter’s Delight copy with lines for note-taking and an Experimenter’s Checklist for those that want to make sure they try every tactic. (Everything in the full version will be sent to everyone that bought the 24-Hour version, too.)

Wednesday: Technical details filled what time I found to work on this.

Thursday: Today I’m running integrations and test sales, generally checking to make sure everything runs smoothly.

The Perfection Intervention is available! Grab your copy for $9 before the final version bumps the price. 😉

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Rating: 4.6/5 (9 votes cast)
The Perfection Intervention 24-Hour Book Challenge, 4.6 out of 5 based on 9 ratings
About MJ Bush

Developmental Editor.
Founder of Writingeekery with 10,000 monthly readers.
I help writers like you master the craft.


  1. Shelley says:

    Good luck, I will be cheering you on. An remember s****y first drafts (Anne Lamott Bird by Bird), everyone has them.

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  2. Good luck!

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  3. Best of luck!

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  4. Of course, I do. *snort* Love the 3 minutes comment. GO MAN GO!! :-) Hahaha. I just read that first comment by Shelley. Hahahaha. Good luck! I’ll be on the other side waiting for you.

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    • Of course you do… want craft advice mixed in with the process advice?
      Oh and don’t forget to bring your pom-poms to the finish line. 😉 Thank you, Robyn!

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  5. I LOVE that quote

    Your first draft is your imaginations private journal.

    Do you mind if I use this quote? Of course you get full credit! It just really hit an aha moment for me 😀

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  6. Your 7:25 question, don’t writing tips go hand in hand when you are talking about the process? I would think they do…the middle slump writer’s block…writing tips on slaying that beast. It is part of the process of plowing through your first draft. Or maybe I am missing something. It’s late and sleep deprivation has hit me also.

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    • Well, the angle here is dodging the inner editor. I might be able to use an overarching metaphor to tie it all together, though. 😀
      Thank you for the feedback!

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  7. Your first draft is your imagination’s private journal.” …I love this!! That’s exactly what a first draft is! Good luck!

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  8. This is such an awesome challenge! You’re hanging in there, that’s the most important thing! 😀

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  9. I love this concept of live-blogging, MJ. So much fun!

    The structure of it formed up like one of my journal entries on a super-stressful day. Mostly in the way it touches down minute-by-minute or hour-by-hour. (I rely heavily on journaling to get me through emotion-heavy days, since I tend to be so disconnected from my own feelings.) But since yours wasn’t all stress, it ended up being a super cool, up close and personal inside look at your process.

    Thanks for sharing this. And what a neat concept. I could see this working as a sort of reality TV for bloggers!

    Best wishes on your current WIP.

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  10. Edie Hicks says:

    It was a great read. loved the cat! Hope the pain goes away soon.

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  11. Good job thus far!

    Ever since I watched MCM livewrite a novel in three days (I was live blogging along) I’ve been tempted to try it… But I just don’t have the concentration span! Maybe I need to plan for a weekend of no distractions. :-/

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    • Thank you, A.M.
      Personally, I would love to see a novel live blogged over the course of several weeks. Maybe you don’t need to squish it into a weekend. :)

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  12. Renee Drake says:

    You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret, all the best people are.
    ~Alice in Wonderland

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  13. I think this is a great idea! It looks like the 24-hour challenge is helping you build momentum and make the most of your creative energy. :-)

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    • Thanks, Steph. :) Honestly, it was the live blogging that made the difference. Constant pattern interrupts, moments of silliness, and keeping myself fully present are creative juice to me, while “challenges” and outside accountability are generally a death knell to my productivity. Plus I have a tendency to run myself into the ground anyway, so by the end of 24 hours I was literally ill despite doing my best to take breaks.

      I think that everyone should try a bunch of things and experiment in ways that scare them, looking for a process that lets them bloom. Right now, I’m trying to figure out a way to use the live blogging model without the 24 hour challenge portion. 😀

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