The Prison of Perfection

I was looking back at the earlier years of this blog, in the time when I used to blog more regularly. I noticed that my posts then were much more like jottings in a journal: interesting places I’d been, articles I’d read or books I’d enjoyed. I blogged more regularly because I didn’t put much pressure on myself to make each piece perfect.

A lot has changed since then. Part of it is the disease afflicting personal bloggers everywhere: the dissipation of time, attention and ideas onto social media. Instead of writing a whole blog post about what’s on my mind, I just put out a tweet. In some cases, that might be all it needs, but often, the opportunity to extend the idea is lost, and I’m just adding to the vast weight of pointless repetition that is our generation’s primary contribution to the world’s supply of information.

But another thing that’s happened in recent years is that I’ve come to see my website as serving a purpose, and I’ve been writing with that purpose in mind. Generally, I can sum up that purpose as something like wanting to impress people so much with my writing that they feel compelled to read my novels, or hire me for some freelance writing, or whatever my focus is at that time.

The result, however, has not been better written posts. It’s just been fewer posts written with less freedom. The desire for perfection has become something of a prison. The same thing has been happening with my fiction writing. It’s a common trap for writers. I’ve been telling myself I’m short of time to write, when actually I’m short of motivation, and that’s largely because of the box I’ve constructed for myself.

So what all of that means is that you can expect to see me frittering away less time on the contribution of free content to social media sites that I never really liked much anyway, and spending more time on here, writing about stuff that interests me. I’ll probably be doing it in a more diaristic, unstructured way, in a way that meanders its way to a point if a point exists at all. Kind of like this post.

In the spirit of this new direction, here’s an interesting site I found lately.

8 thoughts on “The Prison of Perfection

  1. Very honest and interesting post, Andrew. I hope you’ll win the fight against perfectionism.

    Next time it’s a temptation, think of me: If I let perfectionism take hold of me, I wouldn’t allow myself to write billets in a language that isn’t my own. Mistakes and clumsiness are inevitable. And I would have missed a lot of incredible connections to likeminded people around the world. So, welcome to imperfect blogging in style but perfect in human interactions.

    1. Hi Emma, That’s a very good point! I can’t imagine writing in a second language. For the record, though, I have to say that in all the years I’ve been reading your blog, I’ve noticed very little in the way of mistakes or clumsiness. Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to tell from reading your blog that English is not your first language. But I do understand that it must still feel daunting for you, and I admire you for doing it! In any case, you’re absolutely right that the interactions are more important than the style 🙂

      1. You’re took kind but thanks for the compliment.

        I am very happy with the outcome of my blog for all the great people I’ve met through it, mostly online but some in real life too.

    1. That’s good to hear, Lydia! Wow, I never thought of self-hypnosis before. I just watched the movie Get Out, so it’s really not a good time for me to try hypnosis, but maybe I’ll give it a go one day!

  2. I love this post! Perfection gets in the way of so many things. I am glad you are finding a way past it. I look forward to seeing what comes of it!

  3. This resonates more than you can know! I’ve been wrestling with creativity and generally getting in my own way lately and all of the issues you mention have a lot to do with it. Perfection is the enemy of the good, indeed.

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