Friday, August 19, 2011

Crippling Perfectionism Is Killing Me

I have a perfectionist streak a mile and a half long. For those with this same problem, you're nodding your heads in sympathy. For those of you without a perfectionist streak, you're raising your eyebrows and thinking "But that's a good thing!"

No. No it's not. There is a very big difference between working towards your best and settling only for perfection. The later is next to impossible to achieve, so it derails your best plans. When you CAN'T be perfect, you quit. It really doesn't help when you've been blessed with mental abilities higher than the average person in the same way some people are blessed with athletic skills higher than the average person. If I could play football as well as I can problem-solve, memorize, and complete academic work, and if I was male, I would be a millionaire. 

Here's two examples from the last two days. See the picture above? I created the gold sticker on the right side. I *almost* squashed it completely. To me, it looks awful because it's NOT perfect. See how the "e" in AVAILABLE is just a little too shadowy? Yes, I know, I'm being Thankfully, I had a friend over just as I finished it, right before I trashed it completely in frustration. She saw it and said "Girl, that looks like a sticker on a print book. It looks good!" completely unprompted. This made me do a double-take. Maybe I was holding myself to a slightly impossible standard, especially given the fact I have never taken or studied graphic design (on my to-do list).

Another example is I was going through the first three chapters that are extremely polished. I was working on them to put them up on Scribd with the new picture up there as a sample for readers 1 month out from my publishing date. I'm STILL finding not really errors, but places to improve the writing. I'm thinking this is never going to end. I lost my patience last night and my husband was next to me thinking something was truly wrong. I let it out, how I kept finding things to change and improve and he told me I had to stop. That if I didn't let them go I'd never finish editing the rest. 

First book, Elizabeth, not last book. 

On top of all of this stress, my children are both home and we're moving in exactly two weeks from today. In 14 days I will lose about 6 days to travelling up to CT and unpacking. A week. That means I really NEED to finish editing in two weeks, 22 chapters. 

Okay enough blog posting, I need to get to work. I'm sorry if I sound offensive to anyone, it isn't meant so. This isn't false humility making light of a strength into a weakness. My strength is my intelligence, and I am very thankful for those skills. But with it came a psychological hiccough. I love to procrastinate to the last minute and this is shameful to admit why.... I love to procrastinate so that when I finish at the last minute, I can feel proud of being faster than most other people even if the work isn't perfect. You see, one way perfectionists overcome the fear of making a mistake is to artificially create a situation where mistakes are acceptable, such as a last minute project. 

You can even see it in my manuscript writing. I dragged my feet, dragged my feet until I was LATE, then jammed out 18,000 words in 3 days. What is that? I can't even say that I wish I didn't have these issues, as I said, they are a package deal with my creativity and knowledge. But just like others work with other weaknesses, these are mine that plague me and I am just feeling more aggravated about them than usual with this whole editing process. 

"CANCELLED" arriving SEPTEMBER 2011A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby.

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