Publishing Imperfections

When it comes to taking action, there is a spectrum. On one end is carefree and the other end is perfectionist. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been too much of a perfectionist. I would delay projects and deadlines and tell myself, “I’ll publish when it’s a little better.” But this just resulted in me never pulling the trigger. I would hide from criticism, using my “perfectionist personality” as a shield from judgment. Over time it only got worse. I was stuck in a vicious cycle that was reinforcing these perfectionist tendencies. The more of a perfectionist that I felt like, the less willing I was to share, which lowered my self-confidence, which made me begin to fear judgment, which restarted the cycle. 

The funniest part was: I thought that I was doing the hard thing. I thought that being a perfectionist meant to be willing to do the things to be “perfect” that other people weren’t willing to do. But that’s not the case at all. It’s just an excuse. It was my scapegoat. 

So why didn’t I post anything? Because I was too much of a perfectionist. That’s what I honestly thought. And I accepted it. As though it was a just a fact of nature. It makes me laugh now thinking about how that was the end of my questioning. Accepting reality without even trying to change it because it was the easiest thing to do. I was a victim of my own mentality and I didn’t even realize it. That’s who I was. Continuing to blame my shortcomings on things outside of my control and giving up before I would even begin.

The reality of it though, was that I was afraid to be judged. I assumed that people would see my writing as an extension of me, meaning that if they hated my post, they hated me. I took everything too seriously but I just couldn’t help it.

Some of the best advice that I’ve read regarding perfectionist beliefs and breaking past them is:

  1. Don’t take it so seriously. Try to do a good job, but accept it for what it is – not that important.
  2. Write as though you’re talking to a friend. Some time back, I realized that all of my writing sounded like awkwardly worded, forced high school English papers. I still have work to do, but I’ve made a lot of progress.
  3. Favor readability over grammatical accuracy. Grammar was one thing I took way too seriously in the beginning. Having solid grammar is great, but it’s not nearly as important as the writing, message, and perspective.

Incorporating these ideas into my writing philosophy has made a big difference in my writing. I’m improving as a writer, building a blog, and learning a ton in the process.

Once I learned that I don’t have to be a victim and I can work to change the things that I don’t like. Everything started to change. Instead of life happening to me, I began living life. I became of master of my fate. It took a while, but I’m happy to say that my relationship with perfectionism and failure is much healthier these days. 

There is a certain balance to strive for between carefree and perfectionist. This can change depending on the circumstances.

Carefree favors play. Perfectionism favors work.

Neither extreme is ideal. Find your balance.

Above all: Don’t take anything – yourself included – too seriously.

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