Perfectly Imperfect

We are thrilled to welcome Kimberly VanderHorst to the Thinking Through Our Fingers family.


I’m going to make a possibly radical statement:

Technically perfect writing is not always the most compelling writing.

That’s a claim one could easily pick apart, but I think it holds a kernel of truth worthy of exploration.

Are you familiar with 
spoon theory? It’s a concept applied to those with chronic energy deficits due to physical or mental health issues. The idea is that you only get so many “spoons” every day, and that every action you take costs you precious spoons.


The same can be applied to writing. You only have so many writing spoons per day. You can spend your spoons on pouring new words onto the blank page, revising (which costs more spoons for some and less for others). You can spend a spoon trying to deepen your prose or strengthen characterization, or you could spend that same spoon (and a couple more besides) fussing over every, single, word, on every, single, page. 

I’m not saying meticulous revisions aren’t spoon-worthy. Line-by-line editing is my happy place. But I’m putting forward the hopefully-not-too-crazy notion that in striving to spread a shiny veneer of “perfect” over our writing, we sometimes pass up the opportunity to make our writing BETTER. 

It can be easier to tinker till everything is technically perfect, than to push deeper into our characters’ points of view and wring raw, wrecking prose from those depths. Leveling up our writing is hard, soul-wearying work, but personally, I prefer technically imperfect LEVEL 73 writing to polished-till-it-glows LEVEL 14 writing. 

That said, if I have a choice between LEVEL 73 riddled with typos and grammatical errors and technically perfect LEVEL 52 . . . Well, that gets a little tricky, doesn’t it? Just keep in mind that readers are looking for stories to live in, not frame behind glass. Strive to writer better, deeper, stronger. Don’t fuss with your semi-colons and em-dashes when you have a one-dimensional villain to develop. It’s worth the spoons. Promise.

Technical perfection is the icing on the cake, and man oh man do I LOVE icing. But make sure that cake has more than one layer and plenty of filling before you frost it.

And if you have a spoon left over, use it to eat your cake.


kimKimberly VanderHorst is a YA author who cherishes a love for all things quirky and strange. Claims to fame include running Prism Editing, co-hosting the annual Pitch Slam contest, and serving on the committees for the annual LDStorymakers Conference and The Whitney Awards program. Despite being a city girl with a tendency to cuss a lot, Kimberly is married to an LDS minister and lives in rural northern Canada. There, she helps raise their four lovely daughters while pretending not to be afraid of the neighbour’s chickens.