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Perfection and Creativity

The word ‘perfection’ and the word ‘creativity’ seem like very disparate words.  However, perfectionistic tendencies can negatively impact creativity.  You always want to produce your best work; however if you are looking for ‘perfect,’ it can really hinder your creative process and work.

Do any of these sentiments ever go through your mind?

I can’t begin my new project until the ideal moment, i.e., having a large uninterrupted block of time, no other distractions with a lot of motivation.  There is never be an ‘ideal time’ to begin your project or artwork.  Life just seems to happen and things come up that are unexpected.  However, I find it is best to schedule set work times for your work and continue to stick to those set times even when you do not feel like working on your work.  This way, it becomes part of one’s schedule and routine.  With my current photography project, I set designated times for my work and I protect this time to ensure I am making progress each week.  Also, I try to take advantage of “stolen moments” to keep working and thinking.  After all, little actions taken regularly over time, often lead to a desired goal or result.

Spending too much time obsessing over every detail of the potential project, which leads to revising and editing at every step of the way versus giving yourself permission to create an imperfect draft, piece, etc.  I have found that it is better to be open while you are working instead of having an inflexible view on your final work product.  Sometimes, the most amazing ‘good surprises’ present themselves unexpectedly; and, if your are closed off, you might not see these gifts.

The best piece of advice I have ever received from my artist friend, Deborah Samuel, is to just show up each day and to push through and move further than you think that you can go with your work.  At times, this is terrifying, but I have learned to lean into it to get through it — even though there are some days that are so tedious or days that I am not sure how it will all work out in the end.  To work on something for an extended period of time takes faith and trust.  Otherwise, I am not sure how I would keep going.

I love this quote from Anne Lamott in her book, Bird by Bird, on the topic of perfectionism.  (Bird by Bird is a wonderful book if you have not yet read it).

“…Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid?  It’s going to break your heart.  Don’t let this happen.  Repent just means to change direction—and NOT to be said by someone who is waggling their forefinger at you.  Repentance is a blessing.  Pick a new direction, one you wouldn’t mind ending up at, and aim for that.  Shoot for the moon.”


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One Comment Post a comment
  1. I am also trying to remind me that there will never be an ideal time to start with something new. But am always able to find some reason why not to do it, even if that problem doesn´t really exist. So, thanks for encouraging, I will try to change my attitude 🙂

    February 20, 2015

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