After I posted last week's On Writing Bottlenecks...and an Apology, my dad responded via email with wisdom so juicy I felt compelled to share it publicly with all of you. I've pasted his email below (with his permission) -- bold emphasis is my own:
Your LAC post covers some important ground re: perfectionism.
In a nutshell: We live in the age of the polished turd (excuse my vulgarity) where big Industry, big Pharma, big food, big entertainment all try to sell their half-baked crap by polishing it to excess and delivering it in shiny packages, often with little lasting value. This makes many Americans feel that they must polish whatever they create: food, words, videos, songs, just to compete with the high gloss of the barrage, the polished inundation from corporate America.
One big reason LAC rose to popularity is that you delivered honest, heartfelt ideas not because you delivered perfect ideas. Give your readers the credit for being able to see through shine, the "perfection" as 99% of them can.
So - just let your ideas fly! remember the stealth aircraft that can't fly at all until it takes off and begins to crash - its computers correct its errors 100,000/second and voila! it flies. Don't let your inner critic that has seen too much "polished" stuff hold you back.
It is important for people to remember that honesty is perfection even if it has grammar errors, idea errors, composition errors - all this "non-polish" pales in significance to the beauty of an honest thought.
Polish is such a 16-19th century set of ideas. Cezanne and Picasso lived and painted so people could think about something other than the surface.
A compelling case for shipping and focusing on honesty, not perfection! You can read more of my dad's thoughts on life, creativity and happiness in his Bliss Engine book and essays (free to download).
I always like to focus on ACTION, whether for myself or my coaching clients, so here's what I am going to do moving forward:
- Keep a list of all potential blog topics in one place
- Commit to writing about those topics regularly (perhaps back to the write-two-posts-every-Sunday schedule I followed while working full time), regardless of when I decide to actually post them.
- Sometimes goals require baby steps, and sometimes they require an outlandish target to pop you into an entirely different, more creative approach. For example, as a fun experiment this past weekend I sat down with the intention to write 10 posts all in one session -- aiming for as much content as though I was putting in a day of work on my book. It took the high expectations off of any one post, and helped me shift into a higher productivity gear altogether. I ended up with 8 -- short of the goal, but more than I've written in the last two months combined!
- Find help for many of the other projects I'm working on to free up more time for writing (in progress!)
- Be open to posting shorter and/or more frequent posts, while still honoring my value of quality
This post is a perfect example -- my concerns at first were, Am I saying enough? Is this topic worthy of a follow-up? Should I cram more in there? My conclusions: yes, based on the comments -- heck yes, and no! It was a bit of a mental argument, but I decided to walk my own talk and hit publish no matter what :)
I'd love to hear in the comments: what specific actions do you take to combat procrastination via perfectionism?