Writing Advice

Saying No To Perfection

Perhaps you’re familiar with the sensation. You sit down to write, your story a brilliant movie playing in your head, but the blank page in front of you sends a sickening throb of fear through your chest.

What if the words come out wrong?

What if you can’t make the story on paper as glorious as the one in your head?

What if you fail?

And so you sit, paralyzed by fear. You check email. You post on Instagram. You decide your toilet really does need to be cleaned right. this. second.

You do anything but write.

Fear can be useful. It can motivate us to work hard. To revise and edit and get a second opinion before revising once more. It can drive us to the limits of our craft in a mad effort to do better on this story than we’ve ever done before.

But fear can also derail us. It can poison our well of creativity until we no longer know how to give in to that side of ourselves. I’ve met writers who are terrified of writing a scene unless they’re absolutely certain they can get it completely right the first time it hits the page. I’ve met creators with bold ideas but no finished projects because they’re afraid to see it through in case they fail to capture that bold vision well. I see creatives every day who limit themselves–their vision, their productivity, and their imaginations–because they’re afraid of imperfections.

Be imperfect. Be messy. Be three drafts deep and still a little bit lost. Be frustrated. Be sure that nothing you’ve just done will make it into the final draft. Be convinced you’ve forgotten how to write, how to paint, how to draw, how to create.

Be all of those things because those things don’t last. You will carve perfection out of the block of imperfect clay you produced in your first draft. You will revise until the messy is beautiful. Until the story clicks, and you sink your teeth into it. Until you cut away the extra, the wrong, the words that didn’t belong when the final story rose from the sweat and dust of your efforts.

Don’t let fear keep you from doing what you were meant to do. Let go of the expectation of perfection every time you sit down to your art and instead, expect nothing of yourself except that today, you will create.

5 thoughts on “Saying No To Perfection”

  1. Hit the nail on the head. If I ever do leave email and Facebook alone, I write my butt off (but the toilet I can leave for another day). C.J. gives amazing advice. I am fortunate to have found her.

    Like

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