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: suffocation by perfectionism.
After working so hard, reading my results felt like a Chinese burn to the soul. It was only later, when I decided to sit down and look at the commentary that I realised my tutor had been right about everything.
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 apply it the next time you write, you will be the better for it, even if it hurts at the time:)
In these past few months, I’ve changed dramatically as a writer. I’m far more humble and accept that not everyone will like my work and that that’s ok.
A kind of pressure I’d been putting on myself has been relieved and as a consequence, I’m more willing to sit down and write something without worrying if it’s good or not.
My motivation has also increased 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 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 writing as a little seed, growing into a shoot before developing into a beautiful flower. I know it’s finished when there’s nothing more I can do without destroying its natural, organic beauty.
I’m using this imagery to remind myself 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.
I certainly have a long way to go but each day I’m now tending mindfully, observing the words I’ve written with a loving eye and above all, no sudden movements.
Until next time,