As a creative, you are bound to struggle with perfectionism all your life. As far as your writing or art is concerned, things are never ever as you wanted them to be. If only you could change this or that, it would be as it shoulld.
Yet, when you change this or that, you find out it’s not as satisfactory as you wanted it to be, still. You keep changing things until you are totally used.
The crazy thing about perfectionism is that you know it’s like making a mountain out of a mole hill – a flawless writing is impossible, yet you try hard to achieve the perfect work.
No writer has totally overcome perfectionism. You definitely need to have a way to curb it each time during your writing, otherwise, you get restricted by it in a bad, bad way – you will find letting your work reach the public eye difficult. Of what use is your writing if no one other than you will ever see it? Here’s what I do to put perfectionism back in it’s proper place.
– Whatever happens, I do not revise my writing until I’m done with my first draft, all of it.
A year ago, when I thought I had outgrown this malady, it hooked me while working on my story. I wrote a scene of 632 words and each time I read through, I came face to face with something that was not sounding well. I tried to restructure that scene to thrill the perfectionist in me.
I changed good sentences to ‘better’ ones and tried to change them to perfect ones and more perfect ones. I ended up ruining the entire scene and had to begin afresh. Chunk of time squandered!
There was this particular line I changed many times, fifteen times or more, yet it didn’t come out as I wanted it to.
There was always a better way to present it, a better way to write it – it was an endless futile efforts to make it better.
I made up my mind to allow my words to flow through my hands and without casting a second glance at them until I’m done.
When the draft is done, I allow it to sit for a while before revision.
– I began with sharing my amateur writing with others
My writing is not good enough! And so what?
Do you wait until you have got it all flawless before you publish it? Its true you shouldn’t allow your work to be seen with wrong spellings and awkward grammar. So, get your spellings and grammar alright and you’re good to go.
When I started writing, I didn’t know the basics. I only learned along the line through reading and from other writers. I’m still learning. So, I posted my story draft ( I still do) on my website. Initially, it was very hard to post them for public because I felt they’re not good enough. I kept posting them anyway, until my writing confidence soared.
– I stopped taking writing seriously
If mathematics can be fun, why won’t writing be. Writing should be fun. Do not think too hard or try forcing the perfect thought out of your head. Write them as they come. Do well not to cast your ideas away as useless. Write them down. Write as if your words come from your hand. Do not bother about what you’re writing. Enjoy it.
– In writing, honesty turns out to be my enemy
You shouldn’t tell yourself the truth about your writing. You should be giving perfectionism a chance. Avoid criticisizing your work as much as possible. Let someone else do that for you. You already have a handful of critics waiting at the other end. They should have one or to flaws to talk about.
I also learned that perfectionsm and procatination work hand in hand. So, avoid procrastination. Write everyday.
How do you deal with your writing perfectionism? Do share with us.
I'm a food scientist who has chosen the path of creative writing- the one thing which comes to me naturally.
Back in 2013, my love for teaching young learners propelled me into picking teaching as a career. I taught English, Maths and Science in the United Arab Emirates where I lived for ten years. Right now, I live in Coal City, a beautiful hilly area of my country Nigeria.
My website Fiez-writer is a product of my extreme desire to share my writing with the world. Here, I share fiction, poems, thoughts and writing tips.
A huge part of my life is spent with my lovely family and I'm a proud mother to three brilliant kids.