Monday, July 5, 2010
Delving Into the Ungnown - Maegan
July Challenge: Starting a Blog
People talk about perfectionism like it’s a good thing. It is a good thing for a heart surgeon. Or the guy who adjusts the knobs on the space shuttle. But in writing, perfectionism can quickly degrade into the goo that gums up your gears.
When I got to thinking about what a blog actually entails, that my words would be out there flapping in the breeze for the whole world to see, The Worry set in. What if my words were boring? What if they sucked?
Whenever The Worry sets in, my little muse likes to go away and hide in her corner. She does this a lot, because it doesn't take much to make me worried about my writing. I worry when I get less-than-glowing feedback – ‘How did I miss that glaring illogical hole? Why did I ever think this writing thing would be a good idea?’. I also worry when I get applause – ‘Whoa, what if I’m never able to write that well again? What if that’s all I have in me?’ Fear and creativity are kind of like toothpaste and orange juice.
It must be obvious by now that my biggest personal gnome is the Gnome of Fear and Anxiety - or Fangxiety, because I like how that sounds. And really, chronic perfectionism is a symptom. We perfectionists must do everything just right because we fear. We’re afraid of looking foolish. We’re afraid of letting others down. We’re afraid of criticism.
This is where perfectionism equals death for a fiction writer. Remember, we tell stories about people and places that don’t even exist, based on what the imaginary voices inside our heads are saying. It's not like we're curing some deadly disease here.
Sometimes, you have to give yourself permission to be bad at something. First, because you may not be as bad as you think. But also, writing is a process. Heck, life is a process. This doesn't mean I advocate sloppiness. Sloppiness and suckiness are two different things. But that's another gnome for another day.
Learn from your mistakes; decide to get better every time you practice (which should be, like, every day). And don’t let the early suckiness deter you. Do not allow that sly perfectionists’ goo to get in your way. Cut yourself some slack and press on.
Unless you're the guy who adjusts the knobs on the space shuttle.