Perfectionism and Writing

By Nicholas Klacsanzky

stop being perfectionist

Recently, I’ve recalled one method that helped me deal with one of the most cunning enemies of any writer (especially amateur writers): perfectionism. Although I am sure it has already been invented a while ago, I still feel proud of finding it for myself. And this method is: nonchalance.

Many beginner writers tend to start their path having global plans and ideas, like publishing a series of books that would beat Harry Potter in popularity, or becoming famous as a writer with a unique style, or something else. Rather than starting with a short story or a blog post, these enthusiasts attempt to write pretentious “global” novels, usually in one breath.

However, after a while, the enthusiasm starts to fade. The reason is simple: a great book requires great writing skill, which amateur writers usually do not possess. Craving to write everything “perfectly,” but not possessing enough skills for this, beginners may feel the gap between them and their finished book widens. As a result, this great idea of all times is usually being delayed “until better times,” that never comes.

I started like this. However, after repeatedly bashing my head against the same writer’s block, I realized the main reason that made me quit writing (and sometimes even not start it): my perfectionism. The rest was relatively easy.

First of all, I revised my stereotypes about writing. The main were:
– a writer works on his/her writing for the whole day (or a little bit less).
– a good writer is capable of writing decently from the first attempt, without proofreading, editing, and revising his or her writing later.
– a writer must work on their book/short story/novel/poem every single day.

As you can see, these were rather harsh requirements. I can barely imagine a person who would be like the perfect, restless writing robot described above. So, I changed my views on writing, which started to look like below:
– a writer can work on their writing as much as he or she feels like doing so, even if it’s like 20-30 minutes.
– all the great writers edit their writing, so there is nothing bad for me in editing either.
– a writer can allow himself/herself to take some breaks, relax, and do something else besides writing.

This is a totally different approach. I know if I write one hour once during a week, I’ll still make progress. I know I don’t have to write perfectly—“writing normally” is enough, because I can edit my writing later anyways. I don’t have to give up my other interests, like hanging out with friends or watching football on Friday nights. This approach lets me feel psychologically comfortable. And when I feel comfortable, I become twice as productive as compared to forcing myself.

And what kind of stereotypes about writing do you possess? Do you have any held concepts that could be revised?

Share them with us in the comments, and stay updated!


Comment/Ask an Expert


Register | Lost your password?