Pp: Perfectionism, Pursuing the Perfectly Impossible

During April, I will be blogging about how creative people can practice their craft every day and what rewards will come from the daily effort.


Pp: Perfectionism
Pursuing the Perfectly Impossible

If you could achieve perfection in your work, would you want to? Wouldn’t it ruin your whole artistic experience? What would you have to work toward? What would inspire you?

As much as we think we want our work perfect, we don’t really know what that means; it’s ever out of reach and impossible to describe. Even if you think you’ve come close, the mark moves and is once again in the distance.

Daily effort works against perfectionism, especially perfectionism that leads to writer’s/artist’s block. If your work is not perfect today, you’ll have another chance tomorrow and the day after that to keep adjusting and working your way toward satisfaction.

Besides, even if you could achieve the ever-elusive perfection of your work, you’ll be coming back to it the next day to work again, and the next day after that. So it’s not like finding perfection ends your journey or gives you such satisfaction you never need to create again.

So, what’s this elusive thing you’re measuring yourself against? (And why do you assume everyone else is achieving it?) When it comes to daily effort, you are successful and “perfect” if you’ve practiced today, no matter how you might assess the quality of that day’s work. Did you commit time to your craft today? Perfect!

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6 Responses to Pp: Perfectionism, Pursuing the Perfectly Impossible

  1. Alex Hurst says:

    Yup. This is me. Wanting perfection and thus getting nothing done. 😛 Promise I’m going to let myself be more free and spontaneous after this month!

    • TRISTA says:

      Perfectionism comes in sneaky disguises for me. I’ll take forever to begin a project, thinking that I’m considering it thoroughly, when really, I’m waiting for someone to tell me it’s a great idea, it will work out, and people will love it. Then I’ll get started. Ha!

      • Alex Hurst says:

        Hahaha! Same for me!! I need to get out of the habit of needing instant gratification for art.

  2. Rose L. says:

    I have a friend who always wants her writing to be perfect and when it is read in the writing meetings she seems upset if someone points out anything. She makes herself become upset over it and sometimes feels attacked. It is surprising to me. I always expect criticism of my work and it is helpful. My friend is an excellent writer but I think she lacks some confidence; maybe, not sure. Perfection will never happen as each reader has their own ideas and you cannot fill them all!

    • TRISTA says:

      So true, and you make a good point–striving for perfection could actually hinder our growth as artists because we won’t be able to hear or apply helpful tips, well-intended criticism, revisions, or improvements. It’s kind of a paradox, but trying to make our work “perfect” might actually cause us to stagnate as artists.

  3. lovetotrav says:

    We have a saying in our house… perfectly imperfect. It seems to be our family motto and probably one that my kids came up with as they know I tend to err on the side of perfectionism.

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