Friday, May 13, 2011

Once a perfectionist, always a perfectionist?

As I've approached the ever increasing goal date set for me to finish my final draft of TRANSFORMATION, I have become more aware of a trait that I have.

I am a perfectionist.

And that terrifies me.

I have let my need to be perfect stop me from finishing so many projects in the past. I have half written poems and incomplete sketches hidden in drawers throughout my apartment.

Frustration is something I am extremely familiar with. If it does't come out the way I had envisioned it in my head, I give up. I usually don't even allow myself the time to go try and fix it. It's just not good enough.

But, I do have one thing in my favor. I can acknowledge that my perfectionism is, in fact, a weakness. And with recognition comes the ability to fix it.

I came across this article which outlines some steps to overcome perfectionism in writing.

Thankfully, my fear may be a little premature. As I've worked on TRANSFORMATION, I have continued to tell myself it doesn't need to be perfect. And with each new edit, it continues to get better. I can see that.

However, I anxiously wait for the day that my perfectionist tendencies take over, inhibiting me from moving on. Maybe even preventing me from ever being published.

So, it is with that thought, that I review the five pointers that were listed to help conquer perfectionism.

1. Expose the beast through your writing.

Now, I'm not sure how useful this step will be for me. The author, Mary Anne Hahn, suggests writing about it in a journal or maybe even write an essay about your experiences with it. This just feels like homework to me. However, I do think if you can take the time to do it, it can help.

2. Read about perfectionism and how to conquer it.

I thought that was what I was doing. But she does go ahead and list some books that she recommends about perfectionism. I haven't read them yet.

3. Stop yourself from thinking that your work needs to be "the best," and simply do your best. This one I really like. As I go through the final edit of TRANSFORMATION, I will be reminding myself that this was the best that I can do right now. It will have to do. And then I'll have to believe it, which is much harder than just saying it.

4. Remind yourself why you write in the first place.

If you have a great reason for writing, this one will work wonders for you. If you just enjoy writing, it will also do wonders. For me, the joy is in the journey. So, I just need to remind myself that I enjoyed getting to the end, even if the end isn't what I had hoped that it would be.

5. The last and final pointer, to take a writing workshop.

I am a stay at home mom. I have two very young children who require a lot of time and attention. I do not have the time, or energy, to dedicate to a writing workshop right now. However, once my life gets a little less hectic I think this would be a brilliant thing to do.

And there you have it. The five things you need to know in order to not let Perfectionism get you down. I may not have done the article the justice it needs, so I highly recommend you read it for yourself.

I don't ever want to give up because something I wrote wasn't good enough. And I don't ever want to watch someone give up because they thought what they wrote wasn't good enough. People admire effort, even if we don't realize it. And writing is hard. If you finish something, no matter what it is, people are going to respect you for it.

Even if they didn't like it. We'll just hope they keep that opinion to themselves.


  1. Stim, I really liked this post a lot. It actually made me think about my own perfectionistic tendencies--I don't generally view myself as a perfectionist, but now that I think about it, I think part of why I'm so terrified of editing my WIP is because I have a standard I want to achieve with it that I'm afraid might not happen. So, you've given me some stuff to think about. Thanks!

  2. I'm so glad this post has helped you! That's what I'm striving for! And you shouldn't worry about that, you are an amazing writer!