‘I didn’t realise perfection could be so messy!’
As a mature student and aspiring fiction writer my biggest struggle thus far has been overcoming perfectionism; something which until a few months ago was running the entire show—even selling the ice creams!
Practising writing without rigorous editing and in my case, the temptation to overwrite is something I now feel is good for me. But what happened to change all that? That my friend, begins with a murder…
Victim: first university assignment of the year.
Cause of death? You guessed it: suffocation by perfectionism.
After working so hard, reading my results felt like a Chinese burn to the soul and it was only later, when I decided to sit down and look at the commentary that I discovered both the fortunate and unfortunate news that my tutor had been absolutely right about everything.
The sting lasted for about three days, until the benefit of hindsight allowed me to see that it was the greatest chance I had ever been offered in learning to let go.
Ever since then I’ve been working on not forcing things to be perfect, knowing that as long I as I stay truthful to the intention of a piece of writing, perfection will be a natural consequence. Sometimes we worry so much about getting it just right that we stifle something essential in the process.
It’s never a great feeling to receive negative criticism but if you have the courage to lay down your pride, take into account what the person has said and try to apply it the next time you write, you will be the better for it, even if it stings like a mother at the time:)
In the space of these past months I’ve changed dramatically as a writer. I’m far more humble and expect that not everybody will like my work and that that’s ok.
A kind of pressure that I’d been putting on myself has been relieved and as a consequence, I’m much more willing to sit down and write something without worrying about whether it’s good or not.
I feel more motivated and am reliving the pure creativity and enjoyment I felt when making things as a child, realising that this is the magic stuff I’d been seeking so desperately all along. I didn’t realise that perfection could be so messy !
If you’re struggling with something similar and want a personal tip to put what I’ve been talking about into practice then this is something you may wish to try.
I now imagine my essays/articles/stories as a little seed, developing into a shoot and so on until by the end I have a beautiful flower; knowing it’s finished when there’s nothing more I can do without destroying it’s natural, organic beauty.
I’m using this imagery to remind me to be less aggressive and more nurturing in my approach to writing and editing. We all know that the first is going to end in a dead plant or at least a withered one that’s not going to look very attractive:)
I’m realising that writing does require one to pull out encroaching weeds but doesn’t need help to grow. It’ll do that on its own without any help from me.
It takes time to change old habits. I certainly have a long way to go but each day I’m now telling myself: tend mindfully, observe the words you’ve written with a loving eye and above all, no sudden movements.
Until next time^^,