You’ve finished your book. Edited it. Many times. And in record time too – less than a year from the first word of your manuscript to your final draft. You have sent it off to a pair of fresh eyes – the official editor. Now it is time to celebrate! Or is it? Some where inside you feel like your work isn’t up to snuff. You tremble at the thought of getting the red-pen marked-up file back in a couple weeks. The thought of what your public might think fills you with fear. You are even tempted to just not take the final leap of publishing.
Does this sound like you? Do you find it hard to be satisfied with a piece of creativity, no matter how hard you have worked to perfect it? I know the feeling. Every time I finish a novel I think, “Wow! This is amazing!” And then I start the editing process. Now my analytical brain kicks in and I start looking at my book like I was back in a college class. Where we even tore Shakespeare and Austen apart. I start quaking in my bare feet.
A creative lifestyle is beautiful in every way. The best lifestyle, I think. The most rewarding. And one that seems to attract perfectionists. Which means that we are rarely satisfied with our work. (Though when we are, the reward is huge and lasting.) If only we could overcome the negative aspects of our perfectionism, keep the positive, and thereby be more productive and more satisfied with life! Guess what? You can!
But, Isn’t Perfection a Good Thing?
Yes. And no. I know, we have another oxymoron. Life is just full of them, isn’t it? Let’s break down this one. On one hand, being a perfectionist is a great thing! It means you are naturally motivated, all the time, to get everything (life, work, projects, relationships…) perfect. You get top grades in school, you climb the corporate ladder quickly, and easily start your own business. Well, comparatively easily that is! Life seems to come easily to you when your perfectionism is working for you.
When your perfectionism works against you, though, it can feel like you are being stretched like a rubber doll being pulled between dogs in a game of tug-of-war. You don’t get half of your project done because you are so focused on getting one detail perfect. The excellent manuscript sitting on your desk just is never perfect enough for you so you don’t share it with the world. It is never the absolute perfect time to start your own entrepreneurial venture, so you don’t do it.
Since one side of perfectionism is such a good thing, you don’t want to eradicate it. Instead, you just want to make it work to your advantage while minimizing its negative aspects. Which is exactly what I work towards every day myself. Would you like to know how I do it?
Learn What is Most Important
Do you really need to get the name of your villain’s deceased mother absolutely perfect? Especially since she is only mentioned by name once? The scene where your main character almost solves the case but misses it by a hair’s breath, deepening the suspense of the entire book might be more vital to perfect. Just a thought.
To help you decide what is important to focus your perfectionism on, it is helpful to be constantly educating yourself in your field. Are you a writer like me? Then read the works of other writers! If you haven’t yet, take a writing class. Or at least read a few books on the topic of writing. Novel writing especially if that is what your passion is. Learn from the experience of other authors just what is really important to perfect. Such as the facts of the French Revolution if you are setting your historical romance during that time period. Also learn what you can give yourself some breathing room on.
If you can channel your perfectionism, it will work to propel you into unprecedented productivity. And will help you take even more delight in your work.
Develop a Relaxing Routine to Help You Let Go
Now, for a perfectionist, it can be extremely hard to not focus on everything with the same level of perfectionism. To you, my fellow perfectionist, everything is important. Everything must be done well. Or you can come close to having a panic attack. While you might understand the benefits of picking and choosing what you focus your productivity on, and even try to do just that, it can still be very hard for you. Causing you stress. A lot of stress. So, my fellow perfectionist, what are we to do? Besides learning what is important to focus our perfectionism on, we need to develop a relaxing routine!
What do you find relaxes you? Besides your nightly deep glass of wine, of course! Do you have a song that transports you? A favorite chocolate? Maybe meditation or yoga? I find that I need a combination of these things to get to a state of relaxed perfectionism. My personal relaxation routines include hot yoga three times a week in the morning (exercises really helps me to loosen up and let go of my perfectionism in a few areas) as well as quiet mediation to just let my thoughts all fall into place every day. In the evening (after putting my daughter to bed – this sleep training has really facilitated an even relaxing routine recently!) I have to completely shut off work. Which, as a perfectionist who is always trying to do more, more, more, and better, better, better, is a challenge. But if I do, and just sit and immerse myself in a good book (and wine), I find that I wake up much more relaxed. Refreshed. And when I am relaxed and refreshed it is much easier to let go of some of my perfectionism. Because when you are tense, stressed out, and everything that is the opposite of relaxed you fall back into old habits, such as clinging to perfectionism in every area of your life.
So, what do you personally find relaxing? What can you enfold into your own relaxing routine?
Are you ready to feel more satisfied? To be able to be more productive because you aren’t focusing on perfecting each micro detail? Then journey with me to learn what is most important to focus on in your field while developing a relaxing routine that will help you let go. Come with me and turn your perfectionism into a blessing, not a curse!
I would love to know how you productively channel your perfectionism, and how you help yourself relax and let go when you need to. Plus, I would just generally like to know if you like what you read. Please, please, please comment below! I would love to start a conversation with you.