I’m certain many writers, if not all, have experienced perfectionism.
I recently tweaked my submissions fifteen times before I was somewhat satisfied, deleting and inserting words and re-structuring sentences, but deciding that it was done came only when exhaustion crept in. You know the feeling: you find yourself looking at the screen for so long that you don’t realise five hours have passed. You’re somehow too tired to move yet agitated enough to pace. You might even pray that the abyss you’re staring into sucks you in like a black hole.
However, sometimes wisdom comes along and tells you you’re not alone. I came across the article “How to Defeat Your Perfectionism in Writing” by Ruthanne Reid when scouting for advice. In short, it says you need to move on and accept that, while nothing will be perfect, you did your best. I’ve told myself that for as long as I can remember, but, of course, when someone else says it you start to believe it.
Things I’ve taken upon myself to help enforce that belief include new and existing things.
I now use deadlines after never doing so before, giving me a stronger confidence with stopping editing before it becomes excessive and taxing. I’ll take a break when things get intense, showering or napping, binging Netflix or sticking my head outside for fresh air. I try to recognise growth within my style or method or process, seeing it as evolving instead of changing or failing.
Most of all, I remember why I became a writer.
There’s no doubt perfectionism will always be lurking in the background, but it’s wrong if it thinks it will win every time.