As the light breaks through my curtains, I slowly open my eyes, stretch then reach over to my phone to check the time.
Great, it’s not even 9am yet, I feel well rested and I have the entire day ahead of me.
I respond to any Whatsapp and text messages, check Instagram and upload a few posts. I browse through my Instagram feed for a few minutes then I get out of bed.
10am… already? OK, maybe I spent more than a few minutes on my phone… Actually it’s not too bad and it’s still early. I’ll journal, do a bit of yoga and meditation, shower, eat and then get stuck into some writing.
I should be started by 11:30am at the latest. That’s plenty of time to get a couple of drafted blog posts written.
11:30am… stretched, watered and fed. I’ll just quickly wash these dishes and load the washing machine. In fact I may as well prepare lunch and dinner while I’m in the kitchen so it’s out of the way and I can concentrate on writing once I’m at my laptop.
1pm… a little later than planned, but I’ve got a lot done around the house. Plus lunch and dinner are prepped which will save me time later. I’ll quickly check my social media accounts, post some updates and respond to any comments. I may as well check my email too while I’m at it to get the admin stuff out of the way and then I can focus on writing.
2:30pm… stomach growls, back aches. I better get up from the laptop for a stretch and eat something. The washing machine is flashing at me, so I better hang out the laundry; I’m not a fan of that distinct smell clothes have when they’ve been left wet for too long.
4:30pm… Wait, FOUR THIRTY PM! How did it get so late? I haven’t written a thing! Seriously, what the hell! The day began with such promise… Have I really just wasted another day I could have spent writing?
For a long time, this was my life and a regular cycle when working from home.
I knew I could write. I wanted to write. So why didn’t I write?!
I wrote in my journal daily. But when the time came to write for my blog, it just wouldn’t happen – unless I had a deadline.
I felt this physical resistance to writing for my blog and I just could not work out what it was.
I knew I wanted my blog to offer value. I have a lot to say and a lot to share. I know how to write and I enjoy writing, yet when it was time to write, I did not write.
I thought, do I lack commitment? Am I just plain lazy?
The frustration was overwhelming.
I felt like a failure and a fraud. It was like having a cut that I would continuously pick and as a result would not heal.
I would repeatedly torture myself with negative self-talk and I felt like I would never achieve my goals.
Recently however, after breaking a commitment I made with a friend to write a blog post, the crux of my problem with writing – or my inability to write – finally became clear.
I resist writing because it’s hard work.
I don’t mean effort-wise. I mean it takes mental strength to fight my need to write a perfect post every time.
I am a perfectionist. It is a problem that forces me to ignore logic. It causes me to do things that I know are not in my best interests.
Despite knowing in my mind what I should do, the perfectionist in me ignores this and focuses on making sure everything is perfect.
Perfectionism is a form of fear. Fear of getting it wrong or people not liking or approving.
Being a perfectionist does not only mean doing things continuously until they’re just right. It also means doing nothing when I cannot see a possible way to do something perfectly.
Despite knowing when I sit down to write that it is just a first draft, the perfectionist in me cannot help but want to write the mother of all blog posts, first time around.
I want to write, edit and format all at once and I want the outcome to be perfect.
The logical side of my brain knows how ridiculous and unrealistic that is, yet it has been holding me back for as long as I can remember.
With this new sense of awareness, I decided to change my approach to writing.
My brain associates working at the laptop with producing “perfect” work so I would feel intimidated every time I sat down to write.
Now, rather than sitting at my laptop to write my first draft, I use the Memo app on my Blackberry phone.
My mobile is something I’ve always used for quick notes or messages so my brain does not make the association with perfection, as it recognizes my phone as a tool for imperfect work.
There is no way to format so I literally just write.
Such a simple, yet effective strategy.
I don’t think I’ll ever be “cured” of my perfectionist problem and I still feel the pull of procrastination daily, however I can now see how simple methods can be put in place to avoid being paralyzed by the need for perfection.
How is your blog being sabotaged by the perfectionist in you?
What strategies do you use to overcome the need for perfection?