Perfectionism has caused me nothing but trouble. This is true in all areas of my life, but especially in my writing. I concoct these lofty ideas about how much I should be writing a day or that my first draft should be Pulitzer prize worthy or that all my writing will flow easily with brilliance…
In reality, most of my writing in the last year has been an uphill battle. Mainly because my perfectionism has prevented me from even writing at all. I fill up every moment of the day and then it’s midnight and my writing goes untouched. I promise myself that I will write tomorrow, but when tomorrow arrives I seem to follow in the same steps as the day before. In the end, nothing much gets accomplished and I feel lousy, like I’m letting down someone important. I am letting down someone important – me.
For years I’ve dreamed about how wonderful it would be to be independently wealthy and have all day to write. I would wake early and enjoy my coffee on the deck of my perfect house, getting inspiration from the breathtaking scenery around my property. I would climb into my tree house office and curl up in my favorite chair to write illustrious prose for eight hours that I never have to edit because it was so impeccable the first time.
Is that fantasy ever going to come true? Doubtful? So what is a writer with perfectionist tendencies to do?
Julia Cameron talks about stealing moments to write in her book The Right to Write. She reminds me that books are written a word at a time. A sentence at a time. A paragraph at a time. I can write a sentence in a spare moment between classes. I can write a paragraph during my twenty-minute lunch. I can find spare moments in time to write. My perfectionist side says that this can’t be good enough. A real writer needs certain conditions met in order to write well. My inner storyteller just wants to tell a good story any way I can.
The last week I have been I have been writing in bits and pieces. In one sitting I wrote fifty words at school. Yesterday I wrote 532 words after dinner. I have written more in the last week than I have in months. I think my bubble has been burst about the fantasy of needing lots of uninterrupted time to write. I’m realizing that even little snippets of writing will add up and lead me to a finished story one piece at a time.