Why is the pursuit of perfection killing it for you
The author within
Why are you here, reading this? Are you not supposed to be writing? Yes, you are, but there might be a ton of reasons why you haven’t started yet, or continued, or finished or asked someone to read your sh*t, or sent it already for someone to read it, though failed getting the feedback you wanted. I know you have been thinking to put that great idea on paper for a long time now. As those creative thoughts came, you wished you could capture them right there, right in that moment, but you let them passed. Maybe you didn’t have a pen on you or a laptop. The thoughts fled away. It happens to you a lot. You wish you had recorded them. You wish you had that precious time to sit down and write it all up – all those snippets. Maybe you wrote them down but those ideas still missed a context, so you let them go. Sometimes I wrote down what I felt and thought and then I looked at it and hated it. Sheer disappointment. When I was thirteen, I attempted to write a book. On a typewriter. My granddad would importantly prepare a working space for me in the corner of the living room and made sure he alerted everyone trying to come in with a sharp ‘pssst’, in order to chase them away from my sacred “studio”. “Don’t disturb her, she’s working!” He said to all and guarded me in the room like a sacred treasure. And I wrote about 56 pages typing away with befitting rage. And after a week I stopped typing. I read it after myself. It was awful. I tore it into pieces and told my granddad I would never write again. Ever. “Why, but why?” He asked. He was really gutted, trying to pierce the papers together. But I pronouncedly refused to debate the topic. End of story. Does it sound familiar? Do you procrastinate? Do you doubt? There is a good reason for it. Self-esteem and the pursuit of perfection. The “all-or-nothing” approach. I decided not to expose my own criticism at the age of 13, because it was just too painful to see it black and white, right there – horribly amateurish and imperfect, compared to those historic novels about inquisition I read at the time that inspired me so. I shredded that little novel in making into pieces then with real contempt and decided to pretend it never happened. And yet, I wrote 17 diaries afterwards and one of the best essays in high school, although I seriously believed I would fail it badly. No doubt. And yet, I became a published journalist in several most-read Slovak lifestyle magazines – most of them on my first pitching attempt. And going for more. No matter how hard you try, some of the things you dreamt of come back to you in life anyway and bite you in the butt. There is no escape. We tend to delay things we are not too comfortable doing. But the only reason why is our self-esteem – we still haven’t built that muscle. Writing is a muscle and it needs to be exercised. Like any other muscle – any other habit in your life you built up by doing. You must have hated cleaning your interdental gaps, driving a car, or doing your first job, or any other thing you’ve automatized by doing. And now? You don’t even remember how it felt before you started. Listening to your own voice when you write and growing to like it, is a skill. And skills are built by working on them. There is no such thing as talent. Talent is just a fraction of the whole potential game: it’s hard work, feedback, hard work, information, effort, marketing, self-esteem, self-exploration, more hard work, strong stomach for refusals, more hard work and then talent. Open your eyes and see that there is no judge standing above you who will give you lashes if you try and fail. Why are you not writing yet? It does not have to be perfect. Life is imperfect and everything in life is impermanent. The more you expect, the more you expose yourself to disappointment. There is no such work of art in this world everyone would like. Your chase of perfection is just procrastination and irrational expectations. Understand the fact that you are not perfect and accept it. Neither you, nor your writing does need reassurance that it’s perfect. Loosen on that death grip for fs. Write. No matter what who will think about it – writing will instantly make you feel better. And more writing makes you write better. It will help you and your voice to become one. It’s not about being flawless, it’s about being honest. WRITE FOR ½ HOUR NOW. ONCE FINISHED, GIVE US COMMENTS ON HOW IT FELT. ASK ABOUT ANYTHING YOU DOUBT ABOUT YOUR WORK AFTERWARDS.