“That doesn’t sound right…let me move that over here. Ugh it still doesn’t look right. Backspace. Delete”
I am a perfectionist. A person who obsesses over having things done correctly or in the right order. I have a mini panic attack every time I feel as though I did something the wrong way or someone didn’t do it the way I wanted them to do it. I actually didn’t do sports for long in Junior High, because I felt like it was a too stressful of a thing, especially if I would lose. I was a hard critic on myself and on others. So I just didn’t do it anymore.
Lately though I’ve been growing and learning to let some things go a little crooked.
But I can still feel the habit still gripping on my writing. Being a writer and a perfectionist is difficult.
I’m so OCD with how the Word document has to look and if anything is off, like no indentions or it looks off to my normal setting, I will spend my precious writing time searching for a way to fix it back, all the while fuming.
Often times I read advice on just writing out your first draft THEN go back and edit. But my brain didn’t get the memo and often times I write a couple chapters and find myself editing them while trying to finish my first draft. It’s just a vicious writing process that leaves me exhausted and put out with the story.
Like I said lately I’ve been getting better and I think the real eye opener of just how easy it would be if I would wait to edit, is when I did NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) last November. I mean the whole point of NaNoWriMo is to just write. Writing 50K in a month you really don’t have time to stop and go back and edit. You move forward. You write.
I tried NaNoWriMo in November of 2011 and didn’t get far almost halfway because I couldn’t just let go. I had to fix every little thing and I just couldn’t have little nonsense sentences in my WIP even though I could just delete them later. It had to be perfect. It had to be speckle free.
It took me a couple of months to want to try again because I was feeling the depressing fact that I didn’t succeed and berating myself (wanting to hide under a rock). But I decided to give it another try by doing Camp NaNoWriMo.
Camp NaNoWriMo was the first time I made it to the finish line with my novel called Army of Shadows. The reason I think I finished is because I just had fun writing and left the pressure of having everything just right, to just letting my fingers do the talking and shutting off the editing part of my brain. It was a lot of fun to do and a great push in the right direction. It took a lot of mental strength to get myself to just write.
Feeling on a roll and ever so proud of myself, I did NaNoWriMo 2012 and won that. I actually did The Foretold Shorty Collection for that one and I found it so free to just write without my nagging mind. Makes me a better writer to feel good when I write a story instead of pressure to get every little thing right the first time.
I’m still learning to try to look forward during writing. Always look forward. I have caught myself going back feeling out of sorts because something’s off. I tell myself that if I can’t find it and fix it quickly then I’ll just have to fix it later. It’s been working so far and I’m hopeful it will continue.
I struggle with my perfectionist nature too. It’s so difficult. Thanks for sharing great post!