Over the last month, I have written over twelve blog posts. Out of the 12+ blog posts I've written, I have only published two. So, I have ten left in my OneNote drafts notebook.
Ten blog post drafts remain unpublished even though I haven't updated this blog in almost a month. I could've been publishing at least once a week (my current goal). Instead, I got stuck with just writing and not publishing. Why?
It's that other block I didn't name last time: Perfectionism.
Even though I am an overthinker/overanalyser, I don't generally think of myself as a perfectionist. But, there are certainly situations where I get affected by that need to get things not only done right, but also done really well.
That's why when it comes to blogging or social media in general, I can't help but want to make sure that I have the right words and the right images to use. If I don't think it would be good enough, I don't want to publish or share.
This is part of the ongoing story of my blogging life. One of the many reasons I don't update as often as I'd like to. It's never because I have nothing to say. I'm just always second guessing if I am able to say it all in the best possible way.
But, as the inspiring and insightful autor/researcher Brene Brown points out: "Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be our best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth; it's a shield."
We sometimes use the excuse of 'perfectionism' as a way not to start something. Or, as an excuse not to finish or share something. But, doing our best doesn't mean making it 'perfect'.
The fallacy of perfection
Early this year, I started my Daily Art practice commitment and shared it online. Even though I've made a personal commitment to making art daily before, I didn't make that practice public. That's why I never felt the need to share something daily. I just did my work and shared what I felt was 'good enough' to share.
This year, since I've made this commitment public, I noticed a shift in my approach. Not only do I create art daily no matter what (in one form or another), I have also learnt that even when I feel like my daily piece isn't as good as I'd like it to be, or even when it's nowhere near finished (in fact, some are still a complete mess), I share it anyway. And, strangely enough, pieces that I didn't think was all that great end up still connecting with some people.
Key takeaway: We can't always be the best judge of our work. So, why do we have to create these ideas of perfection?
Many of the pieces I've shared wouldn't have made the cut once upon a time. In fact, at least 50% of what I've shared in my Daily Art practice, I probably wouldn't have shared had I not made this commitment. Yet, several of those pieces that I never would've shared end up getting a lot of great feedback. Not that feedback is everything. Far from it. But, feedback is a helpful indicator of how we wish to progress with our work. So, sometimes, putting something out there helps us to evaluate our own work.
This process of creating, sharing, and evaluating is teaching me how to look at my work in a different way. And, as a result, I started learning to trust my instincts better. With that, I've seen my work improve over the last 100+ days. And, as a result, I have at least three completed pieces that I'll be exhibiting by the end of this month (three pieces in one show is almost unheard of in my book!). And, I'm finally developing a body of work that I never could accomplish in the past when I kept judging my work's level of perfection.
So, my 'imperfect' work actually isn't so imperfect after all.
Perfect vs Done
"Perfect is the enemy of done."
I once read this somewhere. Not quite sure where now. But, the sentiment stuck with me because it's true.
If I didn't just continue creating and sharing my art, no matter what, I'm not sure I would've developed some of the skills that I now have over the last few months. I certainly wouldn't have the amount of work I have completed.
That's why I'm not really moving forward as best as I can on this blog. I'm still applying that "I need it to be perfect before I share" approach here that I used to apply to my art.
And yet, every time we try to achieve the ever elusive sense of perfection, we get stuck. Why? Because trying to achieve perfection is like trying to catch a unicorn. It seems so attractive to find, but it's futile. When did anyone ever catch a unicorn or achieve perfection?
Maybe that's why we should make it a habit to add the word "enough" with such aspirations (writing, art-making, blogging). This way, we can find and do things that are perfect enough. Achieve things that are good enough. Like this blog post.
Yes, I feel that this post is still a long way off perfect. Even though I've already written and rewritten this several times - spending more than a few hours putting this together for well over a week now. Part of me thinks I can still keep rewriting and editing. But, if I did, I will continue NOT having anything to post.
So yes… This blog post isn't perfect. But, it's perfect enough. For now. And, I'd like to keep working on doing just that.
If you're looking for more ideas on overcoming perfectionism, the Positivity Blog has some tips for you.