The Fear of Being Imperfect.
I’m sure you have all been waiting eagerly for this next post so I will do my best not to disappoint!
I want to write today about the fear of being imperfect.
A close friend of mine (let’s call him Bob) once told me that I was a perfectionist. We were in college at the time and I laughed at the comment as I was a B-C student, not so perfect. Then he told me what he meant by “perfectionist”. He didn’t mean that I struggled to make all of my work perfect, it was quite obvious that that was not the case. He meant that if I didn’t believe I could do something one hundred percent, I wouldn’t put any effort in at all.
He’s right. Hence, I am writing a very imperfect blog.
That mindset has been a defense for me for quite some time and it is still something I struggle with.
Many aspiring writers are afflicted by this mentality. We want our work to be perfect. Maybe it comes from the desire to be successful or maybe it is a fear of being criticized, either way, it is often a slow killing poison. Obviously you should want your work to be good and up to snuff but I have watched writers become too afraid to call their work finished and others become too afraid to even begin.
Everything you have ever been good at has taken practice, failure, and critique.
Why would writing be any different?
I sent both of my books to Bob, before self-publishing, to get his feedback. In college, we talked a lot about stories we were working on and narrative structure. Bob told me several stories that I found absolutely fascinating. I fear that those stories will eventually be lost to time as Bob suffers from a similar fear of his work being imperfect.
My advice on combating this fear of being imperfect is to start small in your writing.
Start by writing short stories.
I see so many new self-publishing authors start with a four to five hundred page novel or try to kick off their fantasy saga that will be seven books long and is eerily similar to Game of Thrones. Think about it: who is going to read a work that ambitious by someone they have never heard of?
So start small. Once you have a few short stories that you believe are up to par. Give them to family and friends for feedback and, if you are really ambitious, have someone outside of that trusted circle read them (obviously be careful that your stories are copywrited, etc.)
I was recently at a Caspian concert (I hope they will forgive me for mentioning them here), a post-rock band from MA. A recording of Bluebird by Charles Bukowski opened one of the songs. I had never heard it before but it is now one of my favorite poems. I began listening to his other work and found one on the topic of writing. Bukowski writes,
“If you first have to read it to your wife or your girlfriend or your boyfriend or your parents or to anybody at all, you're not ready…”
So, my advice: Do not be afraid to write, do not be afraid of criticism, and do not be afraid to call your work complete. You have other stories that also deserve to be told.
Please like and share my work! And I will see you next month!
Click here to listen to Caspian – https://www.caspian.band/
Click here to listen to Bluebird by Charles Bukowski – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yhi6y1XWb-E
Click here to listen to On Writing by Charles Bukowski - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9iBEUNfikk