Perfectionism is such a fabulous trap. It sounds so lofty and pure and worthy to insist on our creative work being perfect. But aiming for perfection means there is always some aspect yet to be fixed, yet another detail to improve, tweak, polish, fine-tune, finesse… This obsessive mindset or standard or expectation means that the perfectionist can never consider a creative work to be good enough, or finished, completed, done. How impossibly sad.
The Good and Bad of Perfection
When noted creativity expert Julia Cameron addresses perfectionism in week 7 of the Artist’s Way program, she points out yet another twist to the problem: our ego.
“To the perfectionist, there is always room for improvement. The perfectionist calls this humility. In reality, it is egotism. It is pride that makes us want to write a perfect script, paint a perfect painting, perform a perfect audition monologue.”
Perfection and the Inner Critic
Cameron continues the discussion about perfectionism by noting:
“Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try again.”
This is self-sabotage, a self-directed route to failure!
Pretty Good Can Be Enough
Remember that there is a reason for first drafts, trial runs, rough sketches. There is enjoyment to be found in the process of creating. And sooner or later it’s okay to call the work “good enough” and stop. Then you are free to move on to the next thing. Imagine the relief!
Perfectionism Leads to Blocking
If you aim for perfection and insist on perfection to consider a piece finished, you will undoubtedly become stuck. The incessant second guessing and impossibly high standards will eventually cause you to doubt yourself and your work, and with all that self-imposed frustration and doubt you might even become blocked and stop creating at all. Your preoccupation with “perfect” prevents you from reaching that elusive state of creative flow and you get caught in a vicious cycle.
Is perfectionism ruining your work and slamming the brakes on your creativity? Are you allowing your internal critic to hold you back in the face of an unrealistic desire for perfection? If you recognize this in yourself, it might be something for you to work with in your Morning Pages.
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