Friday, August 26, 2011

Are you a perfectionist?

I think all writers are, to some extent. It’s hard not to worry when you have something that’s going to be on the shelves forever, virtually or otherwise. Your stories will be hopefully read, and with that comes dissection. And then the stress begins. Will people understand what I’m trying to say? Will they even care?

Sometimes that worry’s healthy and productive; sometimes it causes a writer’s production to grind to a halt. Perfectionism is one of the biggest creativity killers I’ve faced. You’re so stressed that every word must be “right” you lose the ability to even get words down. I’ve suffered from this myself—often, in fact. Especially when I’m working on something that scares me a bit because it’s out of my comfort zone and I really want things to go a certain way...i.e. I’m focused more on the end result than the story. And the story’s the thing. Without giving it all your attention, it becomes a lot harder to write a meaningful piece. And if it’s not meaningful to you, if you’re not connecting with it, it becomes a lot more difficult to snag your readers’ attention as well.

Trusting the process is really tough in this now-now-now society. We want results yesterday, but building a story takes time. If you rush it, likely you’ll wish later on you hadn’t. Deadlines must be met—that’s a given. Even so, for today, I’m trying to focus on the book I’m writing, the characters I’m breathing life into on the page, and letting that be enough. The rest will happen when it will.

Are you a perfectionist, with writing or otherwise? Or have you wisely figured out how to let go and go with the flow? (If so, man, do I envy you!)


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