Perfectionism starts off well, for writers. We want to craft and create and communicate and make our clients positively thrilled with every inch of the words.
Noble goal. Very noble goal, friends.
Somewhere on that good road, we veer. And it’s perfect we aim for, not good or great or phenomenal.
That fight for perfect has been one of the toughest parts of being a writer. And I know I’m not alone in this.
Anne Lamott has something to say about perfectionism in writing . . . and it’s part of the book I recommend to every writer: Bird By Bird.
Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.
Perfectionism only has as much power as we give it. The first step away from perfectionism — in writing, yeah, but in other things too — is believing that you’re worth something, right where you are.
Your good work is worthy.
Your first draft is a first draft, and that’s worth celebrating.
You carry creativity.
You matter, inherently and innately and divinely.
In that, there is precious freedom. And in freedom, you get to become the writer you were meant to be.