Don’t ‘Edit’ As You Go Along. Letting Go of Perfectionism.

I wrote in my journal recently that one of my New Years goals (in fact my ONLY New Years goal so far) is to be less of a perfectionist. I’ve been a perfectionist for a long time. Usually I see it as a strength. Thinking before you act, weighing the options, etc. will generally lead to positive results. It certainly beats being careless and reckless with decisions. But I’ve learned that taking it to an extreme can be harmful too.

Sometimes perfectionist thinking can be consuming. I easily get hung up by wanting to do things JUST right. It dawned on me recently that I spend a lot of time thinking about things. I think and think and think and end up in a corner, at an impasse. Trying to connect all the dots is fatiguing. Trying to see the whole puzzle before laying the first piece is exhausting. I can’t see the whole picture. So while on one hand it pays to think things through a litlet, I can’t see the future, and thinking too much just leads to spinning my wheels.

But other than not being able to see the future, the more damaging thing about being a perfectionist is that I tend not to start things. I have a lot of ideas and things I’d like to do, but for some reason if I think I can’t “do it right” the first time I hesitate from trying. If I can’t get my head around something sufficiently it’s probably not going to be a go. This thinking stops me from trying.

I’ve been seeing these patterns in my life. This year I want to turn things around a little. It helps to tell myself not to think so much, to stop analyzing. But it also helps to just DO IT. Just TRY. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid of not getting it right the first time.

In the case of writing I read this advice: “Get it down, then get it right. Don’t edit as you go along.” Writers who learn to write fast write better. So this year I want to teach myself not to ‘edit’ (in more ways than one) as I go along.

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