While loss of interest is one major reason for procrastination, perfectionism is also a huge show stopper for many creatives. You feel like anything less than the best is not worthy of being displayed. Nothing short of the finished products will be accepted by the public.
Perfectionism is a cruel enemy of the creative mind. It says, “You will never be good enough. Keep trying. No one will like it. Are you sure you want to be known for that?? It’s too rough.”
What ends up happening to you because of a perfectionist mindset, is you polish and polish and polish until there is only a vague idea of what the original looked like. Like rubbing the face off a penny. For the perfectionist, there are no rough drafts, no version 1.0, no rough sketch, no outlines, no doodles or ditties. There are only masterpieces, number 1 hits, and best-sellers.
Except there aren’t.
Because a perfectionist doesn’t stop editing long enough to publish. Or they procrastinate or lose interest in a project because they can’t get it perfect. Or they never start in the first place for fear of not being able to conquer the task in its entirety.
Or, if by chance if they’ve finally polished enough, there’s nothing left of the art to resonate with an audience and the work flops.
Some creatives hold on to perfectionism as if it’s a heavy cross to bear. They appear humble and contrite and want others to believe it’s a burden to be a perfectionist. But, perfectionism isn’t a sign of humility. It’s a sign of egotism.
You’re worried about what others will think of you. How it will affect their view of you. You’re concerned about your reputation as a painter, singer, writer, playwright, dancer. You don’t want to look like you’re still learning. You worry someone will find your work mediocre and dismiss you as an artist. It’s all about you.
The wonderful thing about art is that it stands alone. It is a free expression of things that can’t be expressed otherwise. There are no right or wrong ways to create art. There may be techniques and styles, but there are no laws in art.
Your art may not appeal to everyone. That’s good. If you create something for everyone, then it’s really for no one. People are different. They have different backgrounds, different dreams, different struggles. Your art will resonate with those who believe, feel, and dream like you. If you let it.
If you struggle with perfectionism, you have to do something to break that habit or it will stagnate your creative mind. What are some things that you’ve been wanting to do, but haven’t for fear of not doing it right or well initially? What about karaoke? Periscope? Online teaching? Acting? You’ll never know if you’re could be good at it if you don’t try.
Nothing is perfect. And art should never be perfect. It should be real. Why not let the brush take the next stroke and stop trying to force your ideas onto the canvas?
Try these exercises to overcome perfectionism. Some are not permanent and so there is no pressure to perform. Others, consider publishing somewhere as rough drafts and get some feedback on it. You’ll be surprised.
- Abstract art
- Free form poetry
- Random photography
- Draw in the sand
- Record a demo
- Film your first Scope
- Publish the outline of your next book
- Create a collage from pictures clipped from magazines
- Decorate a cake
In what ways has perfectionism held you back or stagnated your creativity? What are 3 things you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t because of your perfectionism? I’d love to hear your comments! I’ll go first.
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