I’ve experienced some writer’s block lately. Every time I sit down to write, it’s as if I wring my brain but nothing comes out. To cope with such a nagging issue I have invested a lot of my time watching fail videos on Youtube and America’s Funniest Home Videos.
Needless to say, that’s not helping a ton.
Eventually, I sought advice on the home-brewed streaming app instead of clicking on the next video of people hitting their crotches on poles. I didn’t find my failing to be productive as a writer so funny. This video, which talks about what writer’s block is, where it comes from, and how to combat it, helped me to recognize that at the foundation of my problem is a familiar culprit–an overwhelming insecurity laced with toxic perfectionism.
I always tended to be a perfectionist. If I am to invest in something, I want to invest heavily. I want to be proud of the end accomplishment. If I am fortunate enough to receive positive feedback, I put even more pressure on myself to keep up appearances. Then I get more and more critical, more and more tentative, and more and more insecure as the ambiguous eye of perfectionism focuses his evil magnifying glass on every little part of me. In addition to my perfectionistic bend (and as a part of it), I have all-or-nothing tendencies. I either push all my chips in with greedy eyes full of hope and ambition, or I’m all out because that one time I failed, it hurt, and I don’t have the courage to try again.
Dictionary.com defines perfectionism as a “refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.” The word refusal has a stubborn connotation. But refusing to accept any standard short of perfection is setting myself up for failure, disappointment, and immobilization. It can be a tough pill to swallow, but it’s worth it to force it down: no one is perfect–not me and not you. While you’re choking, know that this is actually an amazingly liberating concept. You are not perfect, which means you are free to be imperfect. You are free to fail; you are expected to fail. Embrace that responsibility, and let yourself live life with risk. You will fail, but you will succeed.
The advice that stuck with me most from the video I watched was captured in two simple words. “Write garbage.” When, as a writer, I’m worried about writing the next great piece, it never finds its way onto the page just like a watched teapot never boils. But, when I alter my goal from “write a masterpiece” to “write garbage,” then I can actually enjoy low-hanging fruit and break the perfectionist chains that keep me from joy, peace, and productivity. It is allowing myself the freedom to fail. No one ever wrote a masterpiece without having first written garbage.
No one is perfect, and nothing is done to perfection. The key is to just live. Be free from the weight of perfectionism. Strive for good enough. Strive for sufficiency. Strive for peace. Embrace the freedom to fail, and write garbage.