There are several things in life that I half ass. I hate to admit it, but it’s the truth. I’m okay with half ass when it comes to things that really don’t mean anything in the grand plan. I don’t mop my floor every week. I sweep everyday and vacuum my carpets at least every other day. I pick up my kids toys, but I don’t stress if I have random craziness strewn through my house. Random craziness makes life a bit more interesting, I say.
I’m not lazy; I just don’t see the point in sweating over things that mean nothing to who I am. In ten years or more, my kids won’t thank me for having a clean house. Nope. They will thank me for all the times I had them clean and fetch me things. My daughter currently has the record for the fastest beer relay. Okay, not really. I know when they are older, they will appreciate the times I read to them or played one of our silly games rather than worried about how clean the house was. At least I hope so cause that’s the plan I’m rolling with.
It’d be much easier on me if I were this way with other things in my life. When it comes to work, my writing, or anything involving a brain, I am competitive and want to succeed. I push myself harder than I should to be perfect—to not make mistakes. I understand that mistakes help us learn to do and be better, but I’d rather just avoid that all together and hit the bull’s eye first shot. Stupid. I know. You ain’t telling me nothing I didn’t already know. So why do I still do it? I dunno.
When it comes to writing, I don’t usually plan or outline. I guess I liken that to mopping the floor or something. It doesn’t seem as important to me because I like the journey with the voices in my head, without knowing where they’re going. I read and reread my chapter constantly as I write it, perfecting sentences and adding more or taking away as I go. I have one critique group member who reads as I write, so I want to make sure it doesn’t come off like a rough draft—I want it perfect.
Anyone who writes and has been at this game for a while knows how foolish that is. The best writing is in the rewriting phase, you say. I totally agree with that, but the closer I am to being perfect makes the rewriting much easier, right? Right?
Anne Lamott in Bird By Bird says:
“Perfectionism will ruin your writing, blocking inventiveness and playfulness and life force. Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground—you can still discover new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip. Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it’s going to get Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move.”
I did NaNoWriMo for the first time this past November. I was skeptical at first, even a little whiny if you ask my writing pals. But I kept going, cringing as I finished each word because I knew it was so unpolished. I had clutter, but I couldn’t delete it. Each and every word added to my goal. I wasn’t gettin’ rid of any of them. I clung onto those words like my son and his last fruit snack.
When I hit my 50k goal, I nearly peed my pants on my unmopped floor. I did it. I wrote without editing endlessly before moving on. That is a huge accomplishment. I deserve a prize—brownies maybe.
I’m trying my best to ease up on my own expectations of myself—to stop being hyper critical of my writing. In fact, when I first started doing this blogging stuff, I read and reread to make sure I didn’t sound like an idiot. And I started hating blogging. So I told myself, in an Irish accent cause everything sounds better that way, to stop being a diddly-eyed idget and just have fun. That’s why we’re doing this in the first place right, to have fun? To draw on our creative powers, to experiment with the craziness in our heads? Now it’s just time to get ‘er done and write.
Are you a perfectionist? Do you allow errors and clutter into your writing? Or are you a smarty pants and know that perfectionism will muck up your creativity?