As a former teacher, I'm the sort of person who gets distracted by typos in the song lyrics during a church service. If someone's blog post has more than three errors, it's hard for me to keep reading. And with my own writing? I am constantly fighting back the demons shouting at me, Who do you think you are? It's not good enough!
These are 3 of the myths of perfectionism that I've been striving to overcome when those voices just won't keep quiet:
1. My writing is not good enough.
Everything that I write is a part of my journey as a writer and as a person. I have really enjoyed Sarah Bessey's writings and though she recently deleted over 1,000 blog posts from her archives, she said that each one had been a personal altar for her where she met with God. Sometimes writing is just personal. (She also likes to call herself a "good-enough-ist," which is oh-so-encouraging). Blogging is a place where I explore areas that God is intersecting with my life. At times my blog is my altar where I, too, can personally meet with God.
But often writing is public. I'm learning to trust that though I will not be changing the world through my writing any time soon, I may have the opportunity for one other person to stride next to me and share my journey for a while. And this makes it worth it.
2. If I revise again and again, then eventually it will be perfect.
I probably read something I've written about 20 times before I hit publish (double that if it's a submission somewhere other than my blog). I also beg my husband to proofread every.single.post I write. Though I still think that you shouldn't sacrifice certain aspects of writing because of laziness, I also know that I need to cut back on the revising. When it turns from being responsible to being obsessive, I just need to publish the thing. Margaret Atwood said, "If I waited for perfection...I would never write a word."
3. I just need to wait longer to publish what I've written.
I've had some pieces sitting as Word docs for months. I'm just waiting for...what? It is mainly out of fear that the well will dry up and that tomorrow will be the day I run out of ideas. To continue on the Sarah Bessey train, I love the post she wrote called In Which Art is Like Manna. She writes, "Art is like that daily manna-bread to me. There is always enough for the day. Gather it, eat it while it’s there, turn around and release it by sharing it." I need to trust that God is always going to provide for each new day of writing.
The truth is that good enough IS enough. As you let go of the expectations and pressure that you place on yourself and simply write out of the pleasure of living and writing about living, that is when your writing is "good enough" to share with others.
In his blog post, Overcoming Perfectionism, Jeff Goins says, "Art is not perfect. Art is human. And I want to create beautiful art. Not stale perfection. I don’t want to “get it right.” I want to make it beautiful."
In what ways do you struggle with perfectionism?
6 Ways for Writers to Overcome Perfectionist Tendencies, by Jeff Goins, has some great advice (and the comments from others are super helpful as well!)
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Linking up with Coffee for Your Heart
On Thursdays this year, I'll share thoughts, tips and inspiration for writers. I'm certainly not an expert, but am simply seeking personal encouragement in this art and want to share with anyone who's also trying to find their way as a writer. These short posts will come from books, articles, the Bible, my own thoughts, and other people. Subscribe in the upper right corner so that you don't miss a post. If you're new to the series, find all the posts here. Come meet me in the comments--I'd love to read your thoughts on writing.
Labels: perfectionism, Thursday Thoughts for Writers, writing