Monday, March 10, 2014

Overcoming Perfectionism

Growing up, I've always been a perfectionist. I don't mind sharing work that I'm proud of--work that has been polished and finished and meticulously refined--but I've always zealously guarded my rough drafts and works in progress and other miscellaneous mistakes.

I'm particularly particular about my writing: I've been known to scrupulously readjust punctuation, change a word for a slightly different connotation, chip at my words with a scalpel until I am satisfied with every detail, before I am ready to share my work with anyone. But recently, I have begun to realize the value of sharing my unpolished work.

I have found, to the surprise of my perfectionist instincts, that people are actually quite supportive of my flaw-riddled talents and rough ideas. A few friends in particular come to mind as people from whom I can share my ideas, who provide support and help me to develop my own ideas.

This is the first photo in existence of Alyssa and me together
The first is my friend Alyssa. By coincidence one day, we discovered that both of us were very interested in creative writing, and that both of us had a small portfolio of poetry and prose that neither of us had really shared publicly before. We read each other’s work and came to appreciate the differences in our writing styles. I’ve had the opportunity to edit some of her rough work, and I can turn to her for advice and constructive criticism, too, and she's honest with me. Good friends don't let each other write poorly.

Another is Alex. When we met, the first personal connection we ever made between us was about words; I shared my poetry with him and he shared some of his writing with me as well, and again we were able to appreciate our differences in style or perspective. Alex became another major source of encouragement and support; I’ve even shared some of my (yikes) rough drafts and unpolished writing exercises with him, and I’ve learned that it’s okay to share my writing even if it’s not perfect.

My cute mom, keeping me well-nourished since the 90's
There are more who come to mind that support me when I share my work—my friend Alexis, a fellow college student who is majoring in film education but still shares a love of literature; my mother, the first bibliophile I ever knew, who has encouraged me to finish writing my stories since elementary school (even if I didn't necessarily ever follow-through); Marissa, one of my best friends growing up, who used to recommend books to me in high school, and vice versa; Zach, who is the most encouraging and open-minded person I know regardless of the subject matter; and many, many more: anyone I've ever discussed a book or creative writing with, friends I’ve made through my English classes, various other friendly and open-minded gems.

The power of a supportive, personal audience is immense. They have given me courage and confidence, and I am ever grateful for their encouragement. And I invite any of you readers who are secretly or privately working on a project or a hobby or an area of research to share your work and works in progress, too. You'd be surprised at how much it may help.

1 comment:

  1. It's funny how reserved we can be when our work isn't what we consider "perfection." Your post reminds me of how often I'm afraid to do things because I'm afraid to fail. Ironically it was the failure of Thomas Edison and Michael Jordan that led both of them to brilliance and success. I think the same thing applies to the things we write. We need to embrace failure and find out what is less effective in writing so that we can learn how to be better. That's an intimidating thought, but I think it's beneficial.