Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Kicking A Habit

By Connie S. Hall

What's wrong with wanting to be perfect? Isn't becoming "perfect" the reason we were put on this earth?

As a child, I wanted to please my parents and teachers. In doing this, I tried to be perfect. Why should I settle for "good" when I can be the "best"? Later when I was a parent, I pushed my children to achieve excellence. Wasn’t that what I was supposed to do?
Now I’m finding that perfectionism can turn out to be a roadblock to a writer. Instead of being a positive character trait, it has filled me with guilt, and caused me to question whether my story is good enough for publication. Sometimes I blame my not writing on the lack of time. Other times I think, “Maybe I’m not meant to be a writer.” Then I stumble across a story I wrote and remember the fulfillment I felt when I wrote it.

Next, I get brave and send my story out in the world again. When the rejection comes, it’s a confirmation that I just wasn't good enough. Weeks and months pass before I try again.Yes, perfectionism does block me and prevent me from submitting my work. It’s hard to say, “I will not let this ruin my life.” Being perfect is not a writer’s friend, and the sooner you get a handle on it the better it will be for your writing.

I have numerous half-finished stories and articles. Will I ever finish them? I hope so, but maybe not. I know I need to strive for my best, submit it, move on to the next project and don’t look back. The not looking back is hard for me. I even dream about things that I can’t do anything about. I’ve heard that with time it will become easier and easier and my writing will get better and better. I certainly hope so because I’m not willing to allow this one habit, perfectionism to stop me from writing. If I didn’t enjoy writing, I would have quit a long time ago. I like capturing an idea, memory, or scene. I’m not going to let doubt suck me in. Trying to write is satisfying and I’m going to keep saying, “My story doesn’t have to be perfect.”


Rebecca Talley said...

Great post. Perfectionism can be an enemy.

Keith Fisher said...

You must remember, you ARE perfect. Your writing is great. My problem is I get lazy and let it slide. Thanks for the inspiration.

Connie Hall said...

Thanks Rebecca, trying to be perfect for me is the enemy. Keith sometimes I wish I could be lazy and let it slide. Sometimes I think I fix things too much. Thanks for your comments.

Paradox said...

Perhaps we ought to start a group. PA-- Perfectionists Anonymous.

I know I belong at the first meeting:

"Hi. I'm a recovering perfectionist. Hopefully at the end of this road to recovery is all of the prose I never wrote. I've already looked under my bed, in my closet, in my sister's diary, and even in the margins of my old PreCalc homework. I've made Wanted posters. So far no luck, but I'm hopeful."