Why You’ll Never Achieve Perfection (And What to Aim for Instead)
Some people see perfection as a badge of honour; a cross to bear that they just have to carry the burden of.
They use it as their biggest weakness in a job interview, as if wanting everything you create to be flawless is even possible.
But it’s not.
Perfection should be treated like a snake that wants to bite you.
You should back away from it.
Far, far away.
Perfection is not your friend—it wants to bite you.
And that bite could be lethal to your creativity.Why striving for perfection can be lethal to your #creativity: Click To Tweet
Why striving for perfection can be lethal to your creativity
For some of us, our desire to create something perfect can stop us from even starting the creative process.
We want every word to be world-changing from the moment we put it onto the page.
If it isn’t, it’s not worth writing at all.
This is a dangerous fixed mindset, and one that it’s worth avoiding at all costs if you want any form of writing career.
Writers with this mindset are often the ones that fit into the tortured artist cliche but have very little to show for all their melancholy.
Writers who are tortured do not create because they’re tortured, nor are they tortured because they create.
Sylvia Plath and Dylan Thomas may have died tragically, but they were talented—their writing would’ve been just as powerful if they hadn’t been so deeply depressed.
They may have written about different things, but talent like that doesn’t go away just because your mindset changes.
Why more writers need to think like software developers
Software developers don’t chase perfection because they know it doesn’t exist.
They aim to fail fast and create the best product they can at that time.
Failing fast is such an important part of their philosophy that FailCon is an annual conference dedicated to all things failure.Why more #writers need to think like #programmers: Click To Tweet
Developers also know that ‘done is better than perfect’.
Software development is expensive—businesses can’t afford to wait until a product is perfect to release it.
They release the bare bones of a product, then work on it some more once it’s live.
In theory, this could go on forever.
While you can’t publish your writing then make drastic changes to it later on, you can write an infinite number of words before you show anyone a thing.
The more you write, the more you’ll get a feel for your voice, and the more you publish, the more confident you’ll become as a writer.The more you write, the more you’ll get a feel for your voice. #ProductivityforWriters Click To Tweet
There’s a lot of self-publishing advice out there that suggests you should publish your books as fast as possible.
While I can understand this from a marketing point of view, if you want to build a long-term writing career, your fans will be far more loyal to you if you take your time writing your books—it’s easy to tell when something has been rushed.
Striving for perfection doesn’t make you perfect
Perfectionism gives you a false sense of security.Perfectionism gives you a false sense of security. #ProductivityforWriters Click To Tweet
It tricks you into thinking you’ll be protected from criticism because your creation is faultless.
Except that just because you think something is perfect, that doesn’t mean everyone else will agree.
There will always be someone who picks fault out of what you do.
That’s why it’s so important to think about what you want first and foremost.
What makes something perfect varies from person to person.
Striving for perfection cripples us.
It stops us from moving on because we obsess over the minutiae.
Don’t dwell on why your piece isn’t perfect. Fix what you can. Aim to write the best thing that you can in that moment in time.
Your best at 17 will be infinitely different to your best at 27 or 37 or 107.
Always keep the bigger picture in mind.
Publishing your first piece of writing isn’t the end of your writing journey; it’s the first step.Publishing your first piece of writing isn’t the end - it’s the first step. Click To Tweet
There are no signs, neon or otherwise, to tell you when something is ready to share with the world.
You will never be 100% happy with what you’ve written.
Sometimes you just have to publish it and see what happens.
And you know what?
But the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Even when we love something, there will be elements that we dislike.You will never be 100% happy with what you’ve written. #ProductivityforWriters Click To Tweet
Many people love writing stories but don’t enjoy the editing or the pitching or the marketing that goes along with it.
If you just want to write and aren’t interested in publication, then that’s what you should do.
If you want to get your writing published, you have to ask yourself if the good outweighs the bad.
If it doesn’t, it may be time to consider a different creative pursuit.
You don’t have to finish everything
That being said, you shouldn’t feel the need to finish every piece that you write.
How we feel about a project that we’re working on can make a huge difference to how easy or hard it is to write.
Don’t feel compelled to finish something (unless of course you’re being paid for it, in which case, sorry, but you’ve just got to get on with things).
We can outgrow our writing projects just like we outgrow our children’s clothes.
That doesn’t mean working on it was a waste of time.
Take the lessons that you can from your abandoned project and use them for your next.
That way, each project you work on will be better than the last.
Permanently putting a project in the drawer can be hard.
If you feel you’ve outgrown it or you don’t enjoy working on it any more, you have to ask yourself why you still spend time on it.
Are you getting paid (or will you when it’s finished)?
Will it attract the attention of agents and publishers?
Will your target audience enjoy it?
Even if you think it might attract the attention of agents or publishers, or your audience will enjoy it, remember that they’re not dumb: a writer’s passion for their project comes across in their writing.
They will know if you don’t love what you’re writing about.
They’ll know if you’re writing for the sake of writing.A writer’s passion for their project comes across in their writing. Click To Tweet
Write what feels right to you.
Don’t feel obligated to finish projects you don’t like.
The time you waste on those projects could be better spent on projects that you do enjoy.Write what feels right to you. #ProductivityforWriters #writetip Click To Tweet
And remember: not a word you write is wasted.
They’re all part of your writing journey, and they all help to make you a better writer.
It’s time to forgive yourself and accept that neither you nor your writing will ever be perfect.It’s time to forgive yourself and learn that neither you nor your writing will ever be perfect. Click To Tweet
Life is a journey.
The most successful entrepreneurs never strive to be perfect—they strive to be better.
From Bill Gates to Beyonce, they know that there is always more that they can do to up their game and make their business/brand better.
You should treat your writing exactly the same way.
Check out more excerpts from Productivity for Writers:
- Why you need to embrace rejection
- How to deal with stress and burnout
- Can toxic friends kill your productivity?
- Why boredom is a luxury
- What to do when you have too many ideas