Pesky Perfectionism Prevents Progress

Person Falling Off BlocksUh, don’t ask me about the alliteration. It’s the first headline that came to mind, so I’m using it. Plus, if you say that headline out loud, you’re bound to get a little tongue-tied, which is fun. But alas, the battle with perfectionism is nothing to laugh at. And the war rages on.

When I completed Holly Lisle’s How to Think Sideways course, I had a firm grip on my tendency to want to be perfect. For a while, over a year, I thought I had won the war. Apparently, my win was only in the battle column. I guess 30 years of being one way isn’t going to be remedied in a little more than 12 months. Oh well, lesson learned.

When you aim for perfection, you discover it’s a moving target. ~ Geoffrey F. Fisher

The good thing is I spotted the assassin sneaking past my infantry – bastards must be asleep on the job – and into my stronghold, so I’m on guard and ready for some hand-to-hand combat, in which I know I will be victorious. But it’s exhausting – fighting those old battles – and I have to stay focused on the plan and the end result.

How did I spot that familiar, old foe of mine?

He showed his ugly face:

  • In my dwindling daily word count. I should be closer to 60,000 rather than a measly 22,630.
  • In my decreasing excitement for, and loyalty to, Buzzards. I love the story; my scene cards are rockin’ and my muse continues to surprise me, but I’ve started questioning her ideas. Sigh.
  • In my inability to finish three short stories about which I’m super stoked to write.
  • In an increase in that damned inner critic’s whispers of “Really? What do you have to offer the world with your outrageous stories?” Grrr.

How will I beat perfect’s sneaky tactics?

I will continue to:

  • Write. Write. And write some more.
  • I won’t be so hard on myself about Buzzards. It’s on spec and I’m still learning the processes that work best for me as a writer.
  • I will finish what I start. Even if I fear it’s a big pile of poopy, I will finish the story.
  • No more listening to my inner critic during the first draft. He’s grumpy and lonely and thrives on misery. I am none of those things and do not desire to join in on the negativity party.

Yeah, Leah, that sounds fabulous, but how do you know you’ll win the war this time?

Easy: I don’t.

But I never give up and I refuse to be dissuaded from the path I’m on. Along with my vast imagination and list of “what ifs,” my persistence is neverending. So, here’s to doing what I want to do, planning to meet my goals, and looking forward to the future.


Pitfalls of Perfectionism by Hara Estroff Marano

Are You a Perfectionist? by Discovery Health

10 Steps To Conquer Perfectionism by Therese J. Borchard

5 Replies to “Pesky Perfectionism Prevents Progress

  1. Perfect! Oh…sorry…just kidding.

    I used to be a perfectionist myself. House, Job, Education, Husband, events…everything was done just perfectly (as I chose to define it and, being a perfectionist, I was always right, right?). In short, failure was not an option with anything.

    Then I moved across the country. In the 3000 mile drive, something more than my zip code changed. I actually had time to think quietly (hubby drove the moving van while I drove our vehicle). I realized what you’re realizing: we can fight the battle to be perfect, but we’ll be the loser every time!

    So I stopped. “Close enough” became my motto and I’ve been loving it ever since. I still slip and go nutso over some things, but I think I’m way better now. I found out you can be happy or you can be perfect, but rarely can you be both at once.

    Cheers to you and your journey!

    Perfectly happy,

  2. Way to go, Leah!

    I just had a visual of you, sword in hand, about to decapitate the Evil Perfect One.

    Hmmm, I must be hangin’ out here more than I thought.

  3. Hey Tracy! Great to see ya over here again. Thanks for stopping by to let me know it’s perfectly okay to be happy just the way I am πŸ˜‰

  4. I don’t consider myself a perfectionist by any means but I can relate on some level. Many people write their first draft completely through, and then go back to edit. I don’t think I’ve ever done that. I keep picking away at my sentences while at the same time moving ahead with the story. But in doing so, I sometimes do loose interest and have to set it aside for awhile. Sometimes I just don’t have it in me to finish a particular story, and still I refuse to give up on it. I go on the assumption that I just might be ready some time in the future.

    If you’re a person who never gives up, Leah, then I’m sure you’ll see this through. Best of luck.

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