I’ve never thought of myself as a perfectionist. That was until I took one of those personality ‘what kind of inner critique are you?’ quiz things and scored highest on the perfectionism trait.
I think perfectionism can affect all writers to a degree. Are you the kind of writer who doesn’t let others read your work until you are happy it is ‘right’?
It wasn’t until I realised I was a perfectionist and started talking though what this meant for my writing the truth really hit me; maybe my perfectionism has been hindering my progress.
Let me ask you some questions. Some of these you may relate to, others not at all:
- Do you allow others to read your work when it is still in the early stages?
- Do you avoid putting yourself in situations where you might fail?
- Do you set high expectations for yourself? And criticise yourself when you don’t achieve them?
- Do you compare yourself to other writers, and convince yourself you’re not as good as them?
- Do you avoid submitting your work to competitions/ magazines etc, believing your writing isn’t good enough so there’s no point.
- Do you become easily disheartened when something isn’t going the way you planned?
Are you waiting for your writing to be so perfect, that you never even give it a chance?
If the answer is yes, then what can we do about it?
Grab opportunities – what’s the worst that can happen?
If you don’t win that competition, so what? You’ve nothing to lose and may even get valuable feedback.
Over the next year, I’m going to try and turn the volume down on my perfectionism. The fact is, things are never going to be perfect – and if we wait for things to be perfect, we could watch great opportunities pass us by!
I’m not saying never edit your writing again or submit first drafts to Editors without a second glance. But don’t be afraid to send out the earlier stages of your work for feedback – or submit that short story that’s been lurking in your drawer out to a competition. See what happens; it might surprise you!
It’s very freeing to loosen the reigns on perfectionism. And on that note, I’m off to submit one of my flash pieces that was recently rejected to another magazine.