I’m a bonafide perfectionist. And as a blogger this is a very bad thing. But I can’t let go!
When it comes to writing and blogging, I’m not your average halfway, kinda, sorta, or wannabee perfectionist but a real-life, mind-numbing, paralyzing, stop-you-in-your-tracks, don’t-get-simple-stuff-done, mountainous-mounds-of-work-I-want-to-tackle but never will, sort of PERFECTIONIST.
Perfectionism has turned me into the world’s biggest procrastinator. Because I’m afraid. And it’s driving me crazy!
There are 70 blog posts that I’ve written, and/or taken more than a dozen pictures for, but have never posted. These aren’t single-paragraph blurbs that I should clean up a little, and post. They’re >1,000 word documents that have been edited and re-edited, read and re-read, and agonized over. They’re organized into folders. Fourteen of them are sitting on my WordPress designated as “drafts” (with an embarrassingly high “revision” count) but I haven’t taken the time to make them “perfect”, so they’re not posted. So close though!
Oh, and there’s a handwritten list, on two single-spaced legal-sized pages, of what I want to write but haven’t. And the future blog posts that I promise but don’t deliver.
Inspiration hits me constantly. I can capture only what I immediately write down. If I don’t, it’s gone. This is why I have dozens of scraps of paper all over the house and voice recordings on my Android…with the sounds of dinner bubbling on the stove, the ringing house phone (that’s probably my mom or husband), and my whining child in the background.
You know what I do instead? I micro blog. I convert my scraps of paper, and moments of inspiration, into facebook and instagram posts. I Pin stuff. And as this weren’t enough, I open social media accounts that I know nothing about (and that I don’t keep up with or want to because they mystify me). Nobody expects this stuff to be perfect. Do they? (Nah.)
I’m trying to overcome.
About an hour ago, my baby (just getting over some stomach bug) was falling asleep in my arms at the computer while I smiled and chuckled and reminisced, got teary eyed and picked up a little motivation at several other blogger’s sites. I love reading what other women have poured their hearts and souls into. I am helped by their content. I’m inspired. I also felt a little bit of regret that I wasn’t writing today. I have a lot of good things to share; stuff that might help people. But I’m censoring myself with my perfectionism as a writer. This makes me a little sad, unfulfilled.
There are things that women ask me about and I immediately think, “I already have a blog post about that!” And then, “Oh, wait; I don’t.”
Sometimes I Google “writing”, and “blogging” just for the heck of it. (I actually Google all day, every day, constantly, and long into the night, just because.) In grad school, we were assigned to read at least half a dozen books on “Writer’s Block”. I loved those books and articles. They validated my inability to find things to write about. I laugh at that now. I never have writer’s block anymore; I’ve completely outgrown that and have replaced any semblance of blockage with an itch to write…an itch that I only half scratch.
I’ve told folks this week, “I need to write! I have to write! I feel fulfilled when I write! I could write all day, every day!” (So why don’t I write?) I’m sure it’s just because I’m grappling with “being a mom”, taking care of my baby, doing chores, and fielding interruptions all day long…instead of pursuing my passion 100 percent.
And I realize this is an excuse I hide behind, not because I don’t have time to blog but because I don’t have time to be a perfectionist blogger. Nobody does. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.
My perfectionism overwhelms me. Exhausts me. Causes me to throw in the towel. Give up. And it makes me lazy. I can tuck my daughter into bed, finish up the dishes and packing my husband’s lunch, and realize that while I could get in a good hour or two of writing before I go to bed, it’s easier to walk right past my computer and hop on my Ipad for “research”. This is simply because I know that any “late night” writing sessions will turn into “all night” sessions in which I write and rewrite the same six paragraphs (or edit pictures I’ll never use) instead of posting something meaningful, and then going to bed so I have the energy to “rinse and repeat” the next day. Which is what success looks like.
I tell myself I’m just bring creative. I’m an artist. I only ever put out my best work (ha ha!). Any excuse to not hit “post” and possibly face the rejection of too few “likes” or “no comments.”
I’m in two women’s Bible studies right now (not because I’m so spiritually disciplined but because ladies’ Bible studies come with really great childcare 😉 and grownup conversation that I can totally relate to). I get to meet with real life women, who have more than one young child, and still find time for part-time and full-time occupations. Some of them even work from home. They get it done. They are my motivators right now. They are showing me (without saying a word) that I’ve been making a lot of excuses!
What I’m dealing with is fear. I’m afraid that if I write from the heart, without a major amount of censorship, I might post something that is not well received, and I might experience backlash – which I could just as easily take as a compliment because it would mean that people not only read what I wrote but that they actually cared! (One of the things I live by is: Take Everything As a Compliment. This helps me tremendously. Maybe I’ll blog about it some day.)
I’ve become a Pro Excuse-Maker.
While I was holding my baby this morning, I also clicked on a short post by one of my hands down favorite, and most inspiring, women bloggers. And Boom! the catalyst for this blog post flashed before my eyes….a typo! I couldn’t believe it. I took a screenshot to remind me later. I liked her more, in that instant, if that’s possible. My inspiration, blogging away, tending to her site daily “like a garden”, used the wrong version of a word!! And that single post had more than 112k comments (because it was advertising a contest). This completely inspired me.
I set the microwave timer for exactly 60 minutes and blogged my heart out. I determined to create a full post in the space of one single hour and change as little as possible. Just post when the timer went off.
My baby woke up before 60 minutes was up and there was a diaper change, a little bit of a snuggle (with some one-handed typing) and then she slept at my feet while I wrote. Then there were phone calls and texts. Some enticing notifications from Instagram (Ooh! Who liked my photo?! Which one?!) There was more snuggling, an attempt to eat, vomiting, a call to the doctor and a disappointing temperature check, followed by more clinging, eating attempts, vomiting, snuggling, and finally a 2-year-old that was distracted and comfortable enough to sit in front of the TV without her mommy.
It was suddenly 6p.m. Time to call it a day. And I was ready. But I wanted to stick to my goal: one brand new (and not heavily edited) post today! But the perfectionism kicked in again. It wouldn’t be OK now that I couldn’t tell the world that this was just my half-hearted attempted, something I threw together in under an hour, basically like an email…so therefore not perfect blog post.
I’m realizing I don’t battle perfectionism, procrastination, or even lack of time. I battle myself.
And that’s something I just need to get over.
So, here’s my imperfect blog post. Nobody needs to point out that it’s not my first – perfectionism is a state of mind, not a reality 😉
And here’s hoping it primes the pump for more.
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This was a great reminder to me to let go off perfection when I’m blogging. Like you, I want to put my best work out there. With the exception of one post, I’ve let them all marinate a bit so I can go back in and clean them up. Even after I post a piece, I’ll go in and change a word or two. But I think there’s a difference between wanted to do something well and wanting to do it perfectly. I think the great thing about blogging is that unlike publishing work on paper, we can go in and change what we’ve put out there any time we want! So we should embrace this medium. And also, we have to remember why we’re doing it. I’m writing because I have things I need to say, but also because I want those likes and comments. And I have to figure out how to take the focus off of those and onto the enjoyment I’m getting out of the writing process.
Rachel @ Reflective Mom
I’m always a little worried someone will notice if I change something and say, “CHEATER!” But, yeah, I do it all the time, especially for those glaring typos that jump out a month later But, if you’ll notice, I haven’t posted much since this post…so I’m not sure I’m as confident as I felt at the end of this musing. I wish you much much confidence in your work (selfishly, because it will mean I get to read more ).
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