Paralyzed by Perfection

Writing is hard. Very hard. Really hard. Well…technically I’m a liar; the actual act of writing has never in history been easier. No stone plates, no clay or wax tablets, no scraping of vellum or pounding of papyrus, no sir, none of that here. WordPress on a Kindle fire, that’s the way to go (though as a side note, this replacement fire is f’ing up, but that’s another story).  No, the real barrier…my real barrier…is the pointless pursuit of perfection

I can’t speak for anyone else, but the thing that keeps me from doing anything new, anything tough, anything remotely difficult is the fact that it won’t be perfect. Oh, that’s not what I tell myself. What I hear inside my head isn’t that it’s not perfect, it’s that it’s not good enough, especially when compared to that guy or that author or that artist or that blogger or or or….  The pursuit of perfection, as it turns out, paralyzes. It’s so bad that upon entering that last word of the previous sentence (paralyzes) and having it flagged by spellchecker, I actually retyped the word 8 or 10 times before hitting online sources to make sure I was right.  3rd person in case anyone’s curious.

Those who know me know I’m nowhere near perfect by appearances, but I’m starting to see that’s a defense mechanism. If I can’t have my space perfect, why try in the first place?  I don’t have time to be perfect, so why spend the time doing it right in the first place?  Stupid, right?  Agreed, but that’s the way my brain works.  Then the guilt kicks in. “You know, Colin, if you’re not going to do it right and you’re not even going to get started on it, that must mean you’re a total failure.”  Now I’m really off to the races. “Oh crap, I haven’t done anything.  I’m a failure. Why bother setting goals if I only miss them?  Why step onto the court if I’m only going to make bad passes?”  And now I come to the real meat. “Why bother writing if it’s going to suck? Why publish if no one will read it?”

The pursuit of perfection causes paralysis, period.  When every “why bother” becomes another arrow in my potential body of work, when every second of writer’s block booms in my head like a cannon from the “1812 Overture”, when I feel like every genuine compliment is actually hiding the ‘other shoe’ just waiting to be dropped, it’s no wonder the only credit I have to my name is something cowritten. 

So enough. Enough of perfection, enough of striving for the best it can get, enough of writing and living such that only the awesome gets celebrated and the decent work gets thrashed. I want to learn to celebrate the the badly written lines done while my kids tear around the room as much as if not more than the five excellent pages written during an orchestrated day of coffee house writing. I want to pen a blog that no one reads but that gives me a happy inward glow. I want to do what I can when I can as well as I can instead of doing nothing because it isn’t as good as the other guy. If it sucks, who cares?  At least I finally got some something done. 

It might not be perfect, but it’s the best I had. Know what?  I think I’m fine with that.

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