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  • Writer's pictureErin Fedeson

Reflections for Myself: Perfection Poisoned My Writing

Not unlike my mental health, perfection poisoned my writing.

 

So many ideas would come to me. Yet so little see their way to the finish.

 

Why? Because I had to restart because what I wrote was not perfect.

 

It’s not until recently that I decided to let go of perfection. The first motive came from Sarah McCoy’s “Stay Thirsty My Friends: On Freeing Writing from the Weight of Perfection.”

 

McCoy had a meme of a drinking fountain. A hand labeled ‘Writers’ had two pop dispensers pouring drink into one cup. “Feeling stressed out when writing” and “Feeling stressed out when you haven’t written” were the flavors.

 

It’s so true. While the cause of the stress is not mentioned, I strongly suspect that some of the cause might be perfection. McCoy had an anonymous quote that suggests that I’m onto the cause: “First drafts don’t have to be perfect, but they have to be written.”

 

Besides a hint of the source of stress, I felt this quote gave permission to be as messy and as horrible as I could be as long as I was writing.

 

Little by little, perfection, at least the expectation of perfection in my first draft, slips away. I’m letting my writing speak. Not write. Not bogged down by questions and fears. Just speak. Just speak in the voice I could hear myself saying.

 

This speaking has found its way to other projects. Leaking into social media posts on LinkedIn. The results are responses, connecting to like-minded individuals.

 

As always, wisdom is found in hindsight.

 

Perfection in writing is almost god-like. But writing. The good stuff you keep going back to. That’s what it is: good stuff. The writing connects on a personal level. Speaking their language.

 

I find it a bit spooky at times when I have so little on my mind, yet my hand with the pen moves as if someone else has command.

 

But I like to believe it’s my inner voice guiding me, so I shall write and worry about the finer details later. Because this is my voice.

 

I need to let it speak, so I can hear what my voice has to say. Then, and only then, can I apply minor polish. If only to prevent it from dissolving into a complete ramble.

 

But the stress is less. I find joy in getting the first draft down and look forward to tweaking the words. What I’m working on training myself to do is read my work, in my head and aloud, to determine if what needed to be written has been written.

 

I hope you find freedom to let go. Yes, some polish is good. But the polish shouldn’t come before the work. That work is writing. Get the writing done first. Then apply polish.

 

Until my next reflection appears, have a wonderful life. <3

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