Perfectionism is something that has dogged many writers for most of their careers. Writing is so intensely personal, so expressive, that anything short of perfection can feel like an existential failure.
I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve stared at a blank page, unable to write because I was sure none of my words were good; or how many times I’ve edited and re-edited before giving up and rewriting the whole damn thing.
At some point I realized how impractical I was being. Even bad words on a page are better than no words. Bad words can always be improved. Improving is much easier than creating.
Perfection is inherently unreal. It does not exist. To chase it is like striving to become God. It simply isn’t in the realm of human existence.
What’s more, holding yourself up to an impossibly high bar only means you’ll be constantly unsure of your work and yourself. You’ll be scared to write. Scared to publish. Scared to release something that isn’t perfect.
More good stories have gone untold because the pursuit of perfection than anything else.
Improvement, however, is perfectly attainable.
Improvement comes in inches and miles. Whether it’s a little or a lot, improvement should be your goal.
Even if your a bad writer, or the worst writer, a lifetime of trying to honestly improve your writing will make you, at the very least, good.
I’ve been lucky in my pursuit of a writing career. I got into the game young. Wrote a lot of bad stuff before I even wrote a good sentence. I was also lucky enough to have a group of young peers to share my writing with. We encouraged and criticized each other as needed. Helped and cajoled in equal measure. It helped form a thick skin when it came to my creative output.
Another thing that helped me work through my perfectionism was fan-fiction. I spent years writing it. At one point putting out nearly a chapter a day. Now, those weren’t the best chapters, which my readers were keen to let me know, but it helped me develop the habit of writing – the habit of being under scrutiny on a near daily basis.
The pursuit of something similar is what I want to create with this challenge. Something to help kill the perfectionist in all of us. Something that’s gonna let us have a little fun with it — to take it all a little less seriously.
Any asshole can put out GOOD words. There’s no shame or pain in publishing your masterpiece. How BADLY can you write?
Can you write so bad it’s good?
Can you write so bad it’s hilarious?
I think if we actively write badly. Actively put out some of our worst work. We can try to break down the stigma that exists in our own head — the one that drives us to only be perfect. Instead of hating the bad words coming out of your pen, they can just be part of the process.
Starting next week, Monday July 15th, I’ll be running the #KillingPerfect challenge on Twitter and Instagram. 5 days a week for 6 weeks I’m going to post writing prompts and I want you to give me your worst effort. Make me cringe.
I’ll be doing these too! I’m going to respond to my own prompts, both on Twitter, Instagram, and here to see what I can come up with!
The Rules of Participation:
- You can participate by answering the prompt on Twitter, Instagram or on your own blog! just tag your responses with #KillingPerfect so others can join in on the fun!
- Terrible Spelling and Grammar is cheating. Ys ths is annyng, bud its nt rly a chalenge.
- Have fun!