Perfectionism is the enemy of progress. For many authors, the process of writing a book is often impeded by their determination to achieve total perfection in their efforts.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Being a perfectionist definitely has its perks. There is nothing wrong with making an effort to produce the best possible version of the book you have in your head. However, when you try to achieve perfection, you are bound to encounter challenges – the chief amongst them being the pitfall of procrastination.
PERFECTIONISM IS DEADLY
A lot of writers never take that first step towards their goal of becoming a published author. They obsess over perfecting the plots and story structures of their work before even commencing with the process of writing a book. Many writers never write that first word – procrastinating as they await that one moment where everything comes together to manifest the perfect version of their book.
There is no such thing as perfection. Spend too much time trying to achieve perfection and you will never get anything done. Admittedly, overcoming perfectionism when writing a book is no simple task. There are steps you can take to avoid the bane of perfectionism, but there is no way of guaranteeing positive results. If you’re a struggling perfectionist, here are some notable tips that you may find useful in your efforts to overcome your perfectionism:
If you have been paralyzed by perfectionism, you can overcome this inability to progress by simply starting to write. Writing anything will do. It doesn’t matter if you are not producing the best quality of your material. Simply focus on putting something on paper. Keep in mind that you can always edit your work later on.
All writers need to set deadlines when writing a book, but especially those authors struggling with perfectionism. Deadlines strip away all those extra minutes, hours and days you normally spend lost in your perfectionist cycle. Once you create a schedule and set deadlines, find people who can hold you accountable for meeting them. Pick a group of friends who will stand ready to chastise you when you fail to meet your deadlines. This sort of accountability will compel you to begin the process of writing.
Take the time to analyze your own thoughts and understand your perfectionist tendencies. Against which standards are you measuring the quality of your work? What fears and factors are driving you towards achieving perfection? Why are you so afraid to produce work that is anything less than perfect? If you can understand the root of your perfectionist ways, you will have an easier time overcoming them.
Form a Habit (of Starting and Finishing Projects)
You need to create a habit of starting and finishing your projects. If you are facing challenges completing your project of writing a book because of your perfectionist ways, find a smaller writing assignment to complete. Consider writing a smaller book or even a tiny pamphlet. Chances are that you won’t encounter as much of a challenge starting and finishing smaller projects of this sort. This will allow you to gain a powerful appreciation for completion. If you can pursue this habit repeatedly, your desire to achieve completion will overcome your determination to create perfection.
Make Mistakes and Learn from Them
Do not be afraid of bad writing. Good writing takes time. So go ahead, write your first draft. Do what you can and trust that you can fix your mistakes at a later date. The idea here is to not critique or edit your work until you’re truly not satisfied with what you’ve written. Don’t think of mistakes as something to be avoided, but rather, think of them as learning experiences.
Writing a book is difficult enough; perfectionism only complicates matters. Fortunately, for most authors this is one psychological habit that can be beaten. If you start by adopting a powerful desire for completion, you’ll be well on your way to overcoming your perfectionist ways.