I have always wished to write something. There’s just one problem – I find it hard to finish what I start. I once wrote more than 20 chapters twice over, before stopping on both occasions. My third attempt started on the right foot, but I gave up on that too. It’s not super hard to ascribe a reason to it.
No, I’m not a perfectionist (not all the time at least). I’m not striving for anything to be as good as it can be, though I’m sure that could be part of the reason. No, it’s very simply a matter of me being very, very, extremely self-critical of myself. I’d look at something and think, no this will never do. It’s horrible, it doesn’t read well, it lacks flow and no one will ever want to read it, without ever actually getting someone else to read it. And something that could have been good – or even great given the right attitude – gets shoved away. Needless to say, I am no more motivated than before to start over. In fact, I would probably close my laptop and walk away.
Why have we become so self-critical? There’s this collective feel as a society that unless something is brilliant, then it fails to measure up against an “ideal”. But what is perfection, this ideal? Who determines it? And why oh why do we strive so hard to achieve it? Why are we so scared to fail, to show doubt, to pose a question rather than an answer? We are obsessed with showing only polished, cut pieces. Nothing else will do. So we turn against ourselves, we beat ourselves up when we don’t manage to accomplish it. But here’s a question for all of us to chew on: if we keep on believing we have to be perfect, and we keep criticising ourselves destructively, how can we learn? If we don’t show ourselves as the rough cut, works in progress souls we all are, how can we ever hope to grow?
Striving to be better is GOOD. Hiding away all our doubts and fears and questions from the world, just in case people judge us as “not ready yet”, that’s bad. Let’s not strive for perfection, just for perfection’s sake – but to grow. It’s like saying you ask for feedback just to get approval. It doesn’t work like that.
Write it, show it around, dance like no one’s watching, experiment your theory. Fail, fail and fail but question why, ask for help and then maybe try again. Maybe walk away and start something new. Not everything is meant to succeed and there’s courage in recognizing that and moving on. [Perhaps I should take a second or third opinion on those chapters. I might realise they just need a little tweaking. Or I might come to the conclusion that I needed to take a different approach altogether.] Don’t put yourself down simply because what you’re doing does not match up to what other people are doing. For all you know, you could be on to something greater.
For all you know, what you think is trash is someone else’s treasure.