5 Ways Writers Can Embrace Imperfection

Do you get frustrated when you don’t meet your own expectations? Do you aim for perfection? Writers often face writer’s block because they aim too high. They expect too much. Don’t. When we embrace imperfection, we get one step closer to something near perfect. 

As human beings, we’re given choices. A choice we make every day is how we react to our mistakes. Will we become angry or will we let them go and learn? Most of us probably fall somewhere in the middle. Unless you’re a writer.

The Misplaced Note Can Make The Song Better

Writers are a strange breed. We often start our journey by seeking perfection. We seek the perfect words to the perfect story. We strive for divine beauty on paper or screen. Experienced writers know better. They understand that we must embrace imperfection in order to find our perfect place. Seth Godin calls it: Good Enough.       

When we learn to view the world from a broader window, we begin to understand. Sometimes the mistakes we make lead to our greatest works. If it weren’t for mistakes, we wouldn’t have Wheaties and Post-It-Notes. So rather than reacting in anger, we might act in thankfulness. Embrace imperfection. That is easier said than done.

Embrace Imperfection

Control: It’s natural to want to know where we are going and when we’ll arrive. We want to control our destiny. One problem: we have no control. Everything is out of our control. Once we accept this truth and allow ourselves to flow with life, we will be happier and healthier.

Fear: We fear what might happen when we make mistakes. Will others notice? What will they think? What if my mistake leads to something worse? These are normal fears. No one wants to be the laughing stock. Yet most of our fears are unreal. Our mistakes rarely leads to such mockery.

We attempt to control our world because we desire structure. But trying to control every part of our lives will only lead to chaos.

No matter how much structure we create in our lives, no matter how many good habits we build, there will always be things that we cannot control — and if we let them, these things can be a huge source of anger, frustration and stress.

The simple solution: learn to go with the flow.- Leo Babauta

This same rule applies for writers. It’s only when we let go of our desire for perfection that we truly let the words flow. It’s only when we embrace imperfection that we write without reserve. 

5 Ways To Lighten Up And Write

  1. Stop trying so hard: Did you ever notice that writer’s block comes when you try too hard. We try too hard because we’re chasing perfection. We compare ourselves to others and push ourselves to compete. That usually backfires. When we let go, amazing things happen.
  2. Separate quality from perfection: Good writers want to publish quality work. Quality is admirable. Quality is not perfection. Writers are human. We make errors, both technical and in meaning. But that’s what makes the journey worth it. Aim for quality, but accept your mistakes.
  3. Laugh at yourself: Once my brother, Pete, planned an outdoor party. Everything went wrong. It was August, but the temperature dropped 30 degrees and there were 40mph gusts. To top it off, Pete’s tire shredded on the way back down from the site. I thought he was going to explode in anger. He laughed. We reconvened at our house and had a wonderful time with a few loyal friends.
  4. Enjoy nature: Nature has a healing effect. Nature also teaches much about life and our false perceptions. If we look closely at the natural world, we’ll understand that everything has purpose. The weak succumb to the strong, yet the cycle goes on. It all works together for good. Perhaps imperfection and perfection are really one in the same.
  5. Just write: The key to great writing is to write even when you’re not sure if you’re right. Writing doesn’t require absolutes. It only requires that we are honest. The words we write today may seem silly tomorrow. That doesn’t matter. Write like you know exactly what to say in the moment. Just write.

At the end of the day, let there be no excuses, no explanations, no regrets. ― Steve MaraboliLife, the Truth, and Being Free

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James Ewen
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