Why being a perfectionist is an obstacle (and how to beat it)



As creators, we are never be content with what we produce. That's okay, we need to be our most severe critics. This is how we can improve our craft.

But that also mean it is difficult to share our work. We'd rather make it perfect before anyone sees it and tells us all the negative things we already know.

That's where the problem lies. That perfection we aim for might never be reached. Not because we can't do it, but because the simple act of working makes up better and stronger creatives. The simple act of working gives us new ideas that we'd like to add. Whether you are working on a sculpture, a screenplay, an edit, a grading, a web app... new ideas come as we put our mind to it.

The stage where we look at our work and think "That's it, there's nothing to add to it", and all you want is to lay back and smoke is cigar... is a rarity.

Knowing that, it's best to fight the urge to reach perfection.

We should see a creation, whatever discipline it is, as a constant work in progress. A constant prototype. Something that is always improving, and just cannot cease to improve.



So instead of seeing yourself as a perfectionist, try and see yourself as a doist. As someone in constant movement, in constant act of creation.

This is liberating as it allows you to present your work to your peers and others with a bit more perspective.

Maybe you will hear comments or critics that you would expect, but that's not necessarily a waste of time. Chances are it will be phrased differently, giving you a different angle on how to solve the problem it shows.

But what is most likely to happen is that you will hear comments you did not expect. People will come and watch your film, or see your painting, your sculpture, with a different expectation. With a different outlook. Simply with a different eye. Enjoy and appreciate those comments, because if they take the effort of sharing their opinion, even if it is harsh, it's because they mean well. They are trying to articulate something that you can nourish yourself with. That should give you new ideas you probably did not see coming, that you can now use to improve your work even more.

A great way to solve perfectionism is to impose yourself a deadline. Do you need to write a screenplay? Give yourself 6 weeks, or however long you think you need. Stick to it. Impose yourself a number of hours each day. Or a number of pages each day, so that you can reach 100 in 4 weeks and then have 2 weeks to do a second pass on that first draft. Allow yourself some freedom within those constraints, as you still need to be open to what happens in your life, but appreciate the freedom that creating constraints gives you. This is not a paradox, this actually frees your mind.

If you are conscientious, and you should, by the end of those 6 weeks, you will have many ideas you will want to add. Keep working on it if you want, but don't use that as an excuse not to share it.

Creating is not an end, it is a journey. Share it, that's where the pleasure is.