18.4.13

Perfectionism


This month I'm participating in the A to Z Blogger's Challenge, found here. Every day of April (except for Sundays), we are posting a blog with the theme of A to Z.


P is for Perfectionism.


The bane of my existence. At least in writing. 

There are many things I attempt to do well in my life, and some of them I care more about than others. So it only seems apt that in writing I attempt perfectionism more than anywhere else. And thus, I struggle with perfectionism in my writing like I don't anywhere else in my life.

I think people tend to try harder at things they 1) find interesting and 2) are passionate about. Therefore, as writing is one of my great passions, I find it both interesting and am passionate about it. And, unfortunately, that's where perfectionism comes in. 

There are a lot of ways I could take this post on perfectionism. I could discuss the ways to irradicate it in your life. I could discuss techniques to avoid perfectionism or how futile it is to try to be perfect. But I'm not going to discuss any of those. Instead, I'm going to embrace perfectionism. (To a degree.)

When you care so much about something, you struggle to perform well. at the best of your ability. flawlessly. If you're passionate about cars and restoring old cars, you're going to put a lot of time and effort into restoring that car. You'll spend hours upon hours fine-tuning the engine, picking the right shade of paint and making sure every inch of that car shines before you drive it to a car show and ask others to admire it.

That's how I am with my writing. A to Z has been both a blessing and a curse. It's so much pressure for a perfectionist to turn out something worth reading every day (not that everything I've written this April has been worth reading). So I feel the pressure of not only coming up with an appropriate topic, with the appropriate letter theme, but also with writing something coherent and worth reading on said topic. And then posting a piece that I'm not pleased with on the Internet? For all to see? Some days, that's taken about as much courage as I can muster.

But A to Z has been a blessing, too. In some ways, I've shaken off my perfectionism and realized that even an imperfect thought has value. I've connected with people I've never met before over my imperfect thoughts. And how cool is that?

Allow me to be honest. I'm one of those people who finishes tasks early, then sits on them for as long as possible, making tiny changes here and there, just in the hopes of making it perfect before it's finally due. And really, who am I kidding? At least in writing, there will never be a perfect piece.

Well, let me take that back. In writing, it's the imperfections which can often make a piece worth it.

What do I mean by that? Life is full of imperfections. And it's only fair that fiction should also be full of imperfections. Not imperfect plots, not imperfect pacing, not imperfect point of views. But imperfect people. 

Life is characterized by imperfect people making imperfect decisions. So while I'm trying to craft a perfect sentence (because I remain unapologetically a perfectionist like that), I'm also trying to remind myself that life is imperfect. In dialogue, an imperfect sentence may very well speak to the characterization of the speaker. Its imperfections could tell a great deal more about the speaker than I ever could in a page of narration. And the reader will understand that.

Because while I'm stuck trying to have the illusive/nonexistent perfect piece of prose, my imperfect reader is sitting there with the book in their hand thinking, "I'm so glad this character isn't perfect. I'm so glad they made the wrong choice here--I would do the same thing, even though it's stupid."

Above perfect grammar and perfect plots, I want perfectly imperfect people in my novels. Because readers often connect with characters above all.

What do you think? Does perfectionism inhibit you?



~I.E.