Perseverance vs. Perfectionism

impossibleIn a way, I believe that all artists are possessed by this silly ambition: they want to do something no one else has thought of doing before them. They want to create something that’s unique. And perfect. And so they try, again and again, and they always fail. It seems to me that this is what truly motivates us.

We keep on writing because nothing we write is good enough, or at least, as good as we think it should be. Or as good as we think it deserves to be.

No story is ever “finished.” There’s always something to change, to add, to remove.

The idea is that you have to do stuff. You have to finish stuff, you have to let go. Again and again and again, and there’s no other battle quite like it.

I’ve been writing for fourteen years now. Sometimes I couldn’t let go: I felt that what I had written was not enough. It does happen; we feel as if our best ideas somehow get lost between our brain and our fingers. Something gets lost in the translation, it always does.

But, and this is extremely important, you have to let go. Over-editing your work, trying too much, is just as worse as not trying enough. There’s got to be a balance, and it’s up to you to find it.

There’s no recipe, no secret formula. Art is the act of being as free and as careless as you want to be. Art gives you the ability to explore a world that is beyond attainment. All art is just an illusion.

We spend an awful lot of time trying to compare our works with the works of others. We feel that this is a race. Sadly, it’s not.

Art is subjective.

Also, you can only be better than yourself. You should always strive to be better than who you were yesterday. That’s why perseverance is so important. And self-discipline. And self-esteem. And a bit of arrogance.

Ego-centrism.

A bit of narcissism.

You’re the only one who can do what you’re doing, and, in fact, you’re doing the world a big favor by creating your art, but letting them admire it. They can love it or hate it, it’s not your problem.

The only thing that matters is that you’re constantly trying to be better, you’re constantly trying to translate more and more of what your brain is thinking. You want to show the world something that only you can see, and you want to show them as much of it as possible.

If they love it or hate it or discard it as stupid, it doesn’t matter.

If they buy it, pirate it, copy it, or destroy it, it doesn’t matter.

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4 thoughts on “Perseverance vs. Perfectionism

  1. This is all very true. My writing style sort of came together in college/university when I was studying journalism and/or writing for ear–for copy to be read aloud by someone. Hence, I dropped pronouns among other things. In my creative writing classes, I was both encouraged/warned about doing this/having this sort of writing style. Post graduation, it all continued but mostly to be more negative feedback from friends, family members and anyone in the writing community I encountered back then. Twenty years later/plus though, it has been much more positive and generally from perfect strangers. And over the years, with my taking care to address my weaknesses I feel I have/there can be in my style of writing but generally think I have the same style. You just have to know what is right for you — may not appeal to anyone else.

  2. Every person is unique. Every writer, every artist of every kind each has a story to bestow or an experience to share. I agree whole-heartedly with your thoughts. Life is a carnival and we are all invited – clowns, performers, trapeze artists – all bringing a unique perspective…..

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