On Getting Lost: Fighting Perfectionism

JordanWriting for Joy, Writing. Practice.

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If you’re anything like me, you are a perfectionist in disguise.

I keep a messy desk. I am the queen of clutter piles. I don’t need my house to be clean. You will find sticky puddles of things in my refrigerator. I forgive easily. I hug a lot.

I don’t look like a perfectionist.

It’s all on the inside. There’s an engine of “must” driving me at all times, forcing me into schedules and routines that are painful–literally, my head will hurt–when I am asked to change them. A good friend of mine recently witnessed a near melt-down as she invited me to dinner in place of my usual exercise routine.

But the place it used to hamper me the most was in my writing, because I’d get stuck in believing that my writing process and my craft must look a certain way in order to get done.

I couldn’t write if I didn’t write at the same time every day.

I couldn’t write a scene if it wasn’t the next one in chronological order.

I couldn’t just take my character for a spin through a scenario to test her mettle.

I was stuck on doing it right.

Guess how much writing I get done during those perfectionist times? Yep. None.

My rigid need to stick to some kind of order served a purpose a long time ago, but now, it mostly just hangs me up.

What do I do now?

  • If I can’t stand to be at my computer another second, I write by hand and transcribe later.
  • I write whatever scene IS in my head, no matter where it falls in the novel.
  • I interview my characters and make collages of their tastes.
  • I try to do something, the tiniest bit, every day.
  • I let things be messy.

So join me in being brave and messy creatively.  Time to step outside the comfort zone because great things don’t usually show up in comfort. Sure, it feels good, but it’s not the place where big ideas and bold art are made.

What can you do today on behalf of your writing or creative life that is outside your comfort zone? Feel free to share here.

JordanOn Getting Lost: Fighting Perfectionism