The Perfectionism Trap – Part 2

For writers, perfectionism is all about irrational fears and self-doubt – fear of rejection, fear of criticism and fear of not being good (or perfect) enough for success. For those who strive to be the best they can be, that need for perfectionism can sometimes prove to be non-constructive and can limit them from achieving their goals, because they always feel the need to keep tweaking their work, to keep (in their mind) improving what they’ve written and constantly keep adding stuff.  One draft soon turns into ten drafts, and so on.

Fear is the primary cause of perfectionism. I know writers who have spent years writing, editing and polishing their novels, which are never submitted to agents or publishers. Why? Because they’re fearful of rejection, that the work isn’t good enough, or that it just isn’t ‘ready’ yet. The only thing that does is take the writer in ever decreasing circles, and why many are very apt at self-sabotage.

There are ways, however, that could help you avoid the perfectionism trap:

1. Being a good writer isn’t about being perfect or the best. It’s about being honest about your limitations and achieving realistic goals based on that.

2. Perfectionism is a vicious cycle, a barrier between you and success. To break that barrier, don’t give yourself unreasonably high goals. Give yourself realistic ones.  Approach your writing sensibly and practically.  Be satisfied with your work, because writing is about the process, not just the achievement.

3.  Allow yourself to make mistakes. Failure is equally as important as success, because without some failure, you can’t learn or develop as a person, or a writer. Learn to accept mistakes and flaws and weak areas. Look at how you made them and why. Accepting them is a step forward in recognizing room for development. Mistakes can be corrected.

4.  Forget about trying to be the best, but instead focus on trying to do your best and allow yourself to improve naturally and gradually without the need to put yourself under pressure ‘to achieve’.

5. Enjoy the writing process and the result at the end. Perfectionists are so concerned about meeting their self-produced criteria that they don’t enjoy the process of writing, creating, developing or growing.

6.  Don’t be too hard on yourself, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun and enjoy your writing.

The key is to find a balance between positivity, development, learning, constructive criticism, and just a tiny ounce of perfectionism.

The reality of writing is that sometimes the self-doubt, procrastination and undue inward stress can overwhelm. Dismiss those fears and start sending out your work to editors, agents and publishers and get yourself on the path to writing success.   

Remember, your writing doesn’t have to be perfect, because no one is, and no one expects it to be.


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