I once knew a writer who held back his best pieces, even when he had the opportunity to present them before a Pulitzer award winner. As the years passed, he actually held back most of his pieces.
Hopefully, this “holding back” mentality will work for him, and in the end, he’ll knock it out of the park and force me to eat crow. But I’d rather go with the opposite approach. I’d rather bare my soul time and again, do my best time and again, and let my weaknesses wither away under the harsh light of scrutiny. It may hurt in the short term, but in the long term, this will give me an accurate idea of what I need to fix, and will only make me stronger.
I believe that getting better at writing is akin to exercise; the ceiling for “your best” starts to raise on a consistent basis, and you soar to greater and greater heights. The idea of the “perfect piece” drops away, and then writing simply becomes an exercise in free-flowing harmony.