Perfectionism is a common trait amongst writers and creatives, and it can be both a blessing and a curse. While it can drive you to produce high-quality work, the desire for perfection can also hinder your creativity and prevent you from producing anything at all.
As a writer, I've struggled with perfectionism for as long as I can remember. I would spend hours agonizing over every word and sentence, trying to craft a flawless paragraph before moving on to the next one. This approach was not only time-consuming, but it also left me feeling frustrated and drained.
It wasn't until I allowed myself to write a crap first draft that I started to make real progress. By allowing myself to write without worrying about the quality of my work, I was able to tap into my creativity and let my ideas flow more freely. And as a result, I was able to produce more content in less time.
But why is it so hard to let go of perfectionism? In part, it's because we've been conditioned to believe that anything less than perfect is a failure. We're bombarded with images of flawless models, airbrushed advertisements, and polished Instagram feeds, and it's easy to feel like we're not measuring up.
However, when it comes to writing (and creativity in general), perfectionism can be a major roadblock. We put so much pressure on ourselves to produce something great that we often end up not producing anything at all. We become paralyzed by the fear of not being good enough, and we convince ourselves that it's better to do nothing than to do something that falls short of our high standards.
So, what’s the secret to quieting perfectionism?
The truth is, there is no big secret to unlocking your creativity. It's all about putting aside your expectations of perfection and relieving the pressure to allow your creative juices to flow. When you sit down to write, don't worry about getting it perfect the first time. Instead, focus on getting your thoughts down on paper or the screen. You can always go back and edit later.
In fact, the first draft of anything is almost always terrible. That's okay. It's the starting point, not the finish line. If you can accept that your first draft will be less than ideal, you'll free yourself from the shackles of perfectionism and give yourself the space to experiment and take risks.
The biggest obstacle to writing is often the fear of failure. It's natural to want to produce something great, but that desire can also hold you back. Instead of focusing on perfection, focus on progress. Every time you sit down to write, you're making progress, even if it's just a few sentences.
This doesn't mean that you should aim to produce subpar work. Rather, it means that you should focus on the process of writing rather than the end result. If you sit down and write, you'll have something to edit. If you get stuck worrying about perfection and never write anything, you'll have nothing to perfect.
Giving yourself permission to write a crap first draft is liberating. It takes the pressure off and allows you to write without the fear of judgment. You can be more creative and take more risks when you're not worried about getting it perfect.
The key to overcoming perfectionism is to remember that writing is a process. It's a journey, not a destination. You'll have to edit and revise, but that's part of the fun. You'll be able to see your progress and watch your work improve with each draft.
So, how can you quiet your inner perfectionist and start writing more freely? Here are a few tips:
Set realistic expectations
It's important to set realistic expectations for yourself when it comes to writing. If you expect to produce a perfect draft on your first try, you're setting yourself up for failure. Instead, aim to produce a rough draft that you can refine and improve over time. This takes the pressure off and allows you to focus on the writing process rather than the end result.
Perfectionism is often rooted in the fear of making mistakes. But the truth is mistakes are an inevitable part of the creative process. Embrace imperfection and see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Remember, it's okay to make mistakes and to produce work that falls short of your high standards.
Keep your inner critic at bay
Our inner critic can be our own worst enemy when it comes to creativity. It's the voice that tells us we're not good enough and that our work isn't worth sharing. But it's important to remember that your inner critic is not the truth. When you notice that critical voice creeping in, acknowledge it and then let it go. Remember, you're in charge of your thoughts, not the other way around.
Write without editing
When you're first starting a writing project, try writing without editing. This means that you don't stop to fix mistakes or re-read what you've written.
So, the next time you sit down to write, give yourself permission to write a crap first draft. You'll be amazed at how much easier it is to get started and how much more creative you can be. Remember, if you get stuck worrying about perfection and never write anything, you'll have nothing to perfect.
*Photo by deposit photos