Perseverance and perfectionism

impossibleIn a way, I believe that all artists are possessed by this silly ambition: they want to do something no one else has thought of doing before them. They want to create something that’s unique. And perfect. And so they try, again and again, and they always fail. It seems to me that this is what truly motivates us.

We keep on writing because nothing we write is good enough, or at least, as good as we think it should be. Or as good as we think it deserves to be.

No story is ever “finished.” There’s always something to change, to add, to remove.

The idea is that you have to do stuff. You have to finish stuff, you have to let go. Again and again and again, and there’s no other battle quite like it.

I’ve been writing for fourteen years now. Sometimes I couldn’t let go: I felt that what I had written was not enough. It does happen; we feel as if our best ideas somehow get lost between our brain and our fingers. Something gets lost in the translation, it always does.

But, and this is extremely important, you have to let go. Over-editing your work, trying too much, is just as worse as not trying enough. There’s got to be a balance, and it’s up to you to find it.

There’s no recipe, no secret formula. Art is the act of being as free and as careless as you want to be. Art gives you the ability to explore a world that is beyond attainment. All art is just an illusion.

We spend an awful lot of time trying to compare our works with the works of others. We feel that this is a race. Sadly, it’s not.

Art is subjective.

Also, you can only be better than yourself. You should always strive to be better than who you were yesterday. That’s why perseverance is so important. And self-discipline. And self-esteem. And a bit of arrogance.

Ego-centrism.

A bit of narcissism.

You’re the only one who can do what you’re doing, and, in fact, you’re doing the world a big favor by creating your art, but letting them admire it. They can love it or hate it, it’s not your problem.

The only thing that matters is that you’re constantly trying to be better, you’re constantly trying to translate more and more of what your brain is thinking. You want to show the world something that only you can see, and you want to show them as much of it as possible.

If they love it or hate it or discard it as stupid, it doesn’t matter.

If they buy it, pirate it, copy it, or destroy it, it doesn’t matter.

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10 thoughts on “Perseverance and perfectionism

  1. Thank you for this reminder. Perfectionism can keep anyone, not just artists in bondage. When we are our most free selves, that’s when we are able to see the most meaning work.

  2. So true, and this applies to all art. I face this in music all the time, because its so easy to fall in love with the perfect vocal track…even when the line gets scrapped. Being able to let go is tough. Being able to stop editing is always a challenge.

    • It’s more like a balancing act. How much is enough? How much is too much? You get to decide, yes, but I’d say it’s more important to finish stuff before they become too close to your heart, and you just won’t want to let them go anymore or even be realistic about them.

      • Exactly. For me with music, I build as much as I can think of, then start cutting down… I imagine it’s like what creating a sculpture would be like. When writing, I seem to prefer free flow more. Letting it get too close to the heart is part of the game for me. I try to just do it, then set it free. Great points (as always) man. Your writing rules!

  3. I love this article. Thanks. I actually have a handful of articles I still couldn’t publish coz I feel it’s not good enough and lacks substance. But this got me motivated to finish it and publish. I am very guilty of the over editing and feeling like my work is crap compared to others.

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