Why Writing is Tough as a Perfectionist

Writing is a hard gig for everyone. Ask any writer—successful or struggling—about their experiences and you’ll discover similar themes of rejection, self-doubt, and creative blocks. I can only speak for myself, but my perfectionist tendencies make writing a harder pursuit for me than many other things I do.

My need for qualitative and quantitative success makes marketing as a profession a good fit for my personality. Everyone expects measurable results from my work  and my best effort every day. Professionally, there is no standard of “good enough” which I operate by.

However, in writing there isn’t a group of people, like a supervisor or department head, who can judge my performance and deem it successful. There is no perfect first draft, and the “just get the first draft finished” mentality conflicts with my inherent need to make everything right all the time. The hardest thing for me when drafting is to know there are flaws in my work, but to keep pushing forward anyway. How can a piece be my best effort and suck so much?! It gives me stress hives.

It’s a constant battle in my head of allowing myself to objectively understand that a shitty first draft is still good (if only because it exists) while hating how terrible it is. Sometimes I allow the hating how terrible it is to win, but that only results in me stopping my draft. This happens a lot. In these circumstances, I typically find a way forward by recording the things I hate for my future self to fix. Because the scariest thing to me is the notion that I might not remember my ideas to solve the problems I create.

Like in all things, I try to give myself a little grace and then hold my work to ridiculously high standards. You could say I’m a WIP too.