I never would have thought myself to be a perfectionist until I became serious about writing. I’m a pretty laid back person on a normal day (barring days when I run out of caffeine too early), and I accept the fact that I have a tendency to be lazy… but when it comes to writing, it has to be perfect.
This last week or so, I’ve tried to be a little more honest with myself while assessing my writing goals and how to approach them. This perfectionism thing isn’t working for me. In fact, it’s put a pretty wicked kink in my progress. If what I’m writing isn’t perfect, I shut down. I don’t stall. I don’t slow down in productivity. I don’t step back to think it out.
I’m talkin’ freeze up. Don’t wanna write it anymore. I start to doubt the entire idea from start to finish, and I start to wonder if I’m really cut out for this.
Am I cut out for this? Well, the answer to that has to be yes. I don’t have any other options – writing has become a necessity, and I gotta do whatever it takes to push forward. Freezing up is not okay anymore.
It’s taken me a while to realize what’s holding me back. Perfectionism, yes, but what else?
I have been so fixated on my first completed novel being “The One” that I’m not allowing myself the time I need to write badly and learn to improve. I’ve reworked plots, I’ve scrapped entire projects, and I’ve put characters through so many different changes that they’re not even the same characters anymore. There is this stubborn refusal in my mind to accept the fact that I might just have to get through a couple of novels before I’ve improved enough to find “The One.”
Let me tell you, this revelation has blasted through a serious wall that’s been blocking my creativity. This entire week has been a real eye opener. I’ve been getting little unexpected tidbits of knowledge and advice all week, coming at me from all different angles. (See “Pretentious Title: The only one who can hold you back is you” – you can probably guess whose email Rachel is talking about.) Every one of these tidbits has turned out to be one of the keys I needed to unlock a secret horde of potential and motivation that I didn’t even know I had stashed away.
If you feel like you’ve lost your forward momentum, take some time to sit and really think about what it is that’s holding you back. It’s worth the soul searching.