I’ve been fighting against creative perfectionism for the longest time now. I’ve put off a lot of ideas and wasted a lot of time because of it. Even now, as I’m writing this, I still have that tiny voice inside my head saying: “Save it as a draft and go back to it later when your English is better.”
No. I don’t want it to hold me back anymore.
It may not be obvious to the people who know me but I am very self-critical. I am aware of my weaknesses and I always feel like my works are never good enough; always telling myself to improve them later, to never publish anything that I’m not completely, 100% satisfied with. The result? most of my half-done works are still stuck in this deep, dark abyss called ‘drafts’ due to procrastination.
The problem with creative perfectionism is, it kills productivity (check out this beautiful article about how perfectionism is creative suicide). Sure, it’s great to strive for the best, but if it’s preventing us to produce contents, what’s the point?
I think perfectionism in general, is tied with the fear of not being good enough. We fear failure and mistakes—although both are great ways to learn. Don’t get me wrong, it’s normal to be afraid, as we are putting our works out there for the whole internet community to see and probably scrutinize, but it shouldn’t stop us from moving forward.
So what can we do to win against creative perfectionism?
Accept that mistakes are part of the process, that sometimes we have to fail in order to grow, and that no one can do anything perfectly at first—and some things aren’t meant to be perfect anyway, like expressing ourselves. Art, whatever form it may be, is a way of self-expression. We create to express ourselves and no one can tell us that we’re doing it the wrong way.
“Don’t expect perfection at first.”– Shirou Nishi (Whisper of the heart)