The truth about creative paralysis: how perfectionism kills your creativity (and what to do about it)

Hey bud! Thanks so much for all of your amazing, generous, and sweet responses to last week’s blog post. Obviously the new and improved direction for The Gratefulist’s brand and website struck a chord with you and some of you reached out to let me know that you’re excited about being part of the Soul-Connected Squad (Missed last week’s blog post? Read more about how the Soul-Connected Squad is the.bomb.dot.com right here.) I just wanted to let you know that your support means the world to me!

Anyhoo....

Welcome back to the #perfectionistproblems series about all the ways your perfectionism negatively impacts your life. We’re onto perfectionist problem no. 6. Woo! Today’s topic is all about perfectionism being a creativity killer. How does perfectionism affect your creativity and what to do about it? Let’s chat!

The truth about creative paralysis: how perfectionism kills your creativity (and what to do about it) - We're back with the #perfectionistproblems series for soul-connected creatives all about how perfectionism negatively influences you (creative) life. Today we're diving deep into how perfectionism is a creativity killer and what to do about it. There's even a FREE workbook involved! Click through to learn more.

PIN THAT, YO!

 

HOW PERFECTIONISM AFFECTS YOUR CREATIVITY

 

You’re a soul-connected creative.

You take photographs, coach clients, write, make jewellery, knit blankers, bake, paint or do calligraphy.

But that’s just the surface layer of what you do.

What you REALLY do, beyond the surface, is make art. You transform materials into products, with so much care and with all of your heart, to transform someone’s day. You put a smile on someone’s face when they’re wearing your creations. You make a difference for someone when they follow your tips, advice, or guidance. You tell and capture someone’s story in a way that resonates through your design or your photos. And that’s BIG.

You create with all of your being, driven from a place deep within you. You want your creations to shine. Not with the fake patina of perfection, but with the real glow of your authenticity.

And then that damn perfectionism shows up!

The thing about perfectionism is that it stifles your creativity. It paralyses you, because it makes you think that creations that aren’t perfect aren’t worth anything.

 
 

When you’re stuck in perfectionism, you simply can’t create from the heart. Your heart is overruled by fearful thoughts in your head. (“What if no one likes this painting? I better work on it some more. Once it’s perfect people WILL like it and I won’t get any criticism. I guess. I hope.”)

But in the world of perfect there is no finish line. Your offerings will never be perfect.

And if you’re waiting for ideal conditions or an ideal situation to even get started, you can wait for a long time.

 
 

PERFECTIONISM IS A FEAR-BASED THOUGHT PATTERN

 

Elizabeth Gilbert says it best in her book Big Magic:

“I think perfectionism is just a high-end, haute couture version of fear. I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified. Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more than a deep existential angst that says, again and again, ‘I am not good enough and I will never be good enough.’“

BOOM! (*Heart eyes* at everything Elizabeth Gilbert puts down onto paper. :)  #notlying)

You might be thinking: “I’m not gonna put my work out there for it to be disliked or critiqued, no way Jose! I better put in a few more hours, just to try and perfect it some more.”

Here’s why that thinking is backward. Nothing is ever beyond criticism. Somebody will always find fault with or dislike your work. No matter how much time and effort you’ve put into perfecting your creations.

What if there’s another way to look at perfection/imperfection in creativity?

When you think about it, either everything is already perfect or nothing ever will be. So, if it’s in your nature to be flawed, then shouldn’t finding beauty in imperfections and flaws be the focal point of your creativity? I believe embracing imperfection should be the guiding principle of your creative energy.

 
 

David Bayles has once said:  “The seed of your next artwork lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece.”

The way to go here is to let an imperfection be the creative inspiration for your next offering, instead of it being the starting point of perfectionism-driven procrastination or indecision. When you find a flaw in your current work, see it as something positive, as you can use it as a starting point in your next work.

 
 

WHAT TO DO WHEN PERFECTIONISM KILLS YOUR CREATIVITY

 

Before you get all kinds of discouraged, there are a few things you can do when your perfectionism prevents you from even attempting an artistic endeavor or stops you from getting in your creative flow. Holllaa! :)

 

CONNECTION

Connection is the best antidote to perfectionism. When you’re in the throes of perfectionism you’ll likely feel alone, like no one knows what you’re going through or understands the shame or guilt that you’re feeling.

The key here is to reach out. Call a friend or send a message to a fellow creative on social media and share what’s going on and how you’re feeling. You’ll find out that, in fact, you’re not alone.

There are many supportive communities online that will help you see truth about your work, assure you that you haven’t failed, and encourage you to see imperfections as beautiful and interesting.

When perfectionism makes you feel like you’re stuck, it can also be a great idea to reach out to a coach or mentor to brainstorm and bounce ideas around.

 

STRUCTURE

Creativity needs structure to flourish. Structure can help you to keep your perfectionism in check as well.

It all start with putting a system in place, like batching your tasks or doing certain tasks only on certain times of the day. Following a routine makes your creative life so much easier. And it keeps distractions away, too!

All of this pays off when perfectionism comes calling. When fighting the urge to keep on perfecting your work (before you know it, hours have flown by, messing up your entire plan for the day), it’s such a relief when there’s a routine in place and you can say that you’ve reached your daily time limit on Task A and you have to move forward to Task B. It’s no longer a matter of willpower, but a matter of structure.

 

RECHARGE

Sometimes none of the above will work when your creativity has been thoroughly drained by perfectionism. When that happens, it’s so easy to feel guilty or stressed-out because you feel like you’re not being productive. The thing is, though, you were not going to get anything done anyway. Perfectionism made sure of that.

The only thing you CAN do, is to take a break and recharge.

Take a nap, draw yourself a bath, or go out for lunch. Go work out. Follow your curiosity and research something that interests you. You could also take up a passion project, like reading a book, practicing your handlettering, or trying your hand at baking.

 

SO HERE’S MY CHALLENGE FOR YOU THIS WEEK:

1. Ask yourself how much your perfectionism influences your creativity and your work. How much time this week is taken up by perfectionism when it could have gone towards your creative projects?

2. I encourage you to take more time for connection, rest, and for putting systems in place this week.

 
 
 
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