8 Mar, ’21

The Battle Against Perfectionism

by Cal

This isn't a post about the nature of perfectionism, so I'm gonna skip that introductory exposition and just assume y'all know what I mean. (Maybe I'll come back to that topic some other time, who knows.)

Moving on. Today, I picked up my languishing "this is going to be a Fun Project that I write for Fun and hopefully can Keep Writing for Fun" project today and went from about 80 words to 617 on the whole draft. And it's all because I remembered the Secret Ingredient (TM) to combatting my own pathological overthinking perfectionism. See, the core concept could be described as deliberately setting out to write something badly, but that's just the concept, it's not the how do you do it part.

That part, that trick is telling myself No.

"I need to flesh out these characters first." No I don't.

"I need to figure out these details about the setting." No I don't.

"I need to make sure I am sufficiently representing my ideologies with my worldbuilding." No, I absolutely Do Not.

"I have to write this scene." Nope.

"I have to introduce this plot point for later." Nuh uh.

"I have to name this character." No, that's what placeholders are for.

"I have to explain what's going on." No I don't.

"I need to figure out a transition--" Haha no.

"I need to put in another scene before I move on to this next bit." Nope, just jump to it.

"This dialogue is bad, I need to rewrite it." No, leave it.

"This scene is awkward but I need to keep going." No, smash cut it and move on.

Literally every time - and I mean literally every time I get stuck on something with a story, the solution is to tell myself to Just Not Do It. That's it. That's the secret ingredient. It works every single time.

The problem I have is remembering that this is a legal tactic, so to speak, which is really the tricky part because the perfectionism is like "you HAVE to do this or it'll be CRAP and WORTHLESS and you can do BETTER" and I gotta be like "no, brain, shut up, I am not doing it".