Progress, not Perfection


Daughter Liz is an artist who loathes the prospect of losing her creative skill. She’s a newlywed and both she and her husband work full time.

“I’m worried my art skills are getting rusty,” she said during a recent video chat. “But I have an idea!”

Her idea? To create a children’s book together with her as the illustrator and me as the writer.

“I think the project would help motivate me to work on my art during my free time instead of mindlessly checking Facebook or watching YouTube,” she said.

What’s a mother not to love about that?

To keep us motivated and excited about the project, we decided to make the book a gift for my granddaughter Charlotte, whose birthday was six months away. That became our long-range goal. Mermaids — a favorite of Charlotte’s — became the main characters. A dancing and singing mermaid named Charlotte became the protagonist with a sea turtle as her wise sea creature friend.

Then, in order to stay accountable and keep the project moving, we agreed to meet via video chat every other week. I was thrilled to have an excuse to chat twice a month with my daughter who lives 2200 miles away!

Finally, we each stated what portion of the project we would complete by our next chat. She would make rough pencil sketches of the mermaids, and I would write character sketches.

We have followed that pattern for the past 12 months! Look at us! Writing a children’s book in six months! :-/ Our new goal is to have it finished by Christmas 2018.

What happened?!

Life happened, of course. In addition to the normal distractions of life, we extended our deadline twice. Charlotte decided she hated sea turtles and LOVED dolphins. Watercolor pictures became too time consuming, so Liz switched to computer-generated scenes. Family health concerns became my priority for a few months. And her work got super busy.

Not a perfect happily-ever-after ending, but we have made significant progress.

We made progress!

Progress Not Perfection
I love the imperfection of this bumper sticker!

Focusing on progress rather than perfection teaches you things, like

  1. Be real! Six months to write, illustrate, and publish (even just on the family printer) a children’s book is unrealistic.
  2. Be willing to bend. Things change. Focusing on progress leaves space for flexibility.
  3. Have an accountability buddy. The progress we have made is largely due to our bi-monthly video chats.
    • Chats served as a natural deadline
    • We felt responsible to have accomplished something for the sake of our co-creator.
    • Collaborating with a friend is FUN!
  4. You don’t have to give up because things didn’t work the way you thought.
  5. It’s helpful to occasionally evaluate where you are, what you’ve learned, and decide on what the project looks like moving forward.

Liz and I will complete our book creating project. But, whether or not we finish it by Christmas, we’ll continue to enjoy the journey together.

Published by Pam

I am a writer and a pretty good cook. I overuse exclamation points and dark chocolate. I LOVE God and my family the most! I know from experience that life goes much better when we help each other. I'm writing a book about becoming your best self. I think of it as one of many ways I can help others and be helped by them.

4 thoughts on “Progress, not Perfection

  1. I know you and Liz will finish the book also as well as enjoy the journey. I think this is such a great idea. Hope I get to see it!


  2. How great that you are writing a book!!! Your two skills in the same family make you the perfect duo!

    Perfection pending is so comforting! Thanks for letting us see behind the curtain in your colaboration!

    (I forgot that Tumblings is you. I’ll be sure to read them now!)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: