Perfectionism Stymies My Writing Yet Again

I've been compiling my poetry into a book. It might be more accurate to say I've been struggling to compile my poetry into a book. I thought I had it done. Then I started to read through it and realized it was overwhelming, too many poems and too many directions. At that point I decided to divide the poetry into three books. I thought this would be easy!! Really I did. I started working on it and kept trying to make it perfect as I tend to do. People who know me well know that I have a tendency to expect perfection from myself. I could go into all the childhood roots this belief grew from, but I know what they are. It doesn't change anything, and this isn't a therapy session. So, we'll skip that. Just suffice it to say, there are roots and they get fed regularly by my expectations and the expectations of certain other people in my life.

Then there are those people who don't expect me to be perfect, who remind me that perfection isn't all it's cracked up to be, and that perfection gets in the way of me being my best self. Odd isn't it to think that striving for perfection can actually stop us from being our best selves. When this thought occurred to me, I felt a gut wrenching denial that lasted for a very long time - like a day or two - before I could accept it as truth. Actually, in all honesty, I'm still struggling to accept it as true even though intellectually I get it.

Last week I offhandedly mentioned to a friend who asked how my day was going that I didn't know if I was struggling with the books of poetry because I was being indecisive or a perfectionist. My friend reminded me of my tendency to get in my own way by striving for perfection...

I sat down at the card table set up in my family room, looked at the poems spread all around and started working. Every time the word perfect popped in my head, I reminded myself of my friend's words. Simple words really and one's I'd heard before, but they worked. And, by Thursday night I had all the poems sorted into four piles - three books and one pile of rejects and two books were already organized. I thought it would take at least two weeks to get to this point even though little Miss Perfectionist demanded I get it done yesterday and that it be perfect and alternately demanded I work on it until it was perfect no matter how long that took. I stared in disbelief for a few minutes. I wanted to hug or kiss or at least thank my friend for those words that helped me free myself from the perfectionist thinking that kept tripping me. I think I may have danced around the room a bit. Seriously, I felt a little delirious. Friday I organized the last book. I felt great!!

Have I ever mentioned that I have fabulous friends?

I started assimilating the poems into "books" on my computer yesterday. So far so good. I'm still happy with the results. When this is done, I'll need a final read through to see if it's "great" not "perfect". If so, I'm one step closer.

Being freed from the twisted roots of perfectionism is incredibly liberating... Wonder how long it will last... Seems like those roots are always waiting to wrap around me and pull me back under...


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