Lads, ladies, persons of non-specific gender identity, I have a confession to make: I’ve been using you.
It’s true. One of the reasons I started this blog was to stop being such a damn perfectionist.* Posting three times a week on a set schedule was designed to make me more comfortable with completing pieces faster. Not in the sense of leaving the computer-womb less finished, but more not being subjected to the incessant overworking that tends to mark my writing when I get stuck in perfectionist mode. I’ll change a word six times only to change it back on the seventh. In small doses, it can be helpful, but this was not small.
And it was getting bad. I’d actually rewritten some short stories and scenes to the point of paralysis. I could neither continue to work on them nor declare them done and kick them out the door. Actually, there’s one or two that are so overworked at this point that they’re becoming incoherent, if they aren’t already there. I may have to drag them out back and shoot them because they won’t go away. And they’re not getting better, really. They’re just…circling the drain.
This isn’t limited to writing, either. I want to be awesome at everything right fucking now in most parts of my life. And it makes me cranky and obnoxious when the universe sees this sense of entitlement and promptly kicks me in the lady-junk.
It’s not a competitive thing; in the writing, especially, there’s absolutely no one to compete against except myself. And that’s the trick of it: I am competing against myself. Ergo, I can never win. But I try to be philosophical about this. After all, if I was writing a character, I’d always give them some kinds of weird flaws and things they’re not good at to make them well-rounded, right? Because that’s what makes people, y’know, people. And not Pod Beings from the Planet Zog.**
If flaws make you well-rounded, then I am feeling as well-rounded as a fucking beach ball at the moment.
That’s one of the tricky parts about writing, at least to me. With no one to judge me (except for editors and things when I submit stories) it’s hard to know when to stop. When it goes from good to really good without crossing into now you’re taking the piss. There is a line; I’m just having trouble remembering where it is, exactly.
But blogging is helping. The drive to put something out on a set schedule (and, tellingly, something that other people can see) is loosening that chokehold of perfectionism. I can look at my writing and know when good is good enough. And it’s not about putting out something poorly written. It’s about finding the point of diminishing returns, and not going past it. Much.
Someday I will not be a perfectionist. And I will be the best non-perfectionist you ever fucking saw. Just watch me.
*Which is a nicer way of saying obsessive. And I totally didn’t obsess over the right word there. Really. I swear.
**It gets a bad rap, but Zog is lovely in the spring. All the Pod Beings are in bloom.