Updated: Sep 15, 2020
An on-and-off writer, AnnaKate pens how she meanders the roadblocks and potholes of writing.
Oh the irony itself; of which actually got me writing.
A writer’s block has more than just to do with a cap on one’s creativity. I mean, creativity is often illustrated as a lit light bulb. So it’s either lit or not, same goes to creativity; if it’s there, it’s there. It’s a “ding” moment.
So if you look deeper, a writer’s block has more to do with the vicious loop of perfectionism and procrastination.
Perfectionism is an unrealistic expectation of one’s work to be flawless. It brings the fear of starting something because of the fear of failure. In which, brings to you procrastination. Due to the fear of being “imperfect”, you just don’t want to start. Or you just take a really long time to just get ready to do.
You start getting ready by cleaning your desk space, sweeping the floor, wiping the shelves, cleaning the kitchen, washing your car, painting the house – the list goes on to get everything “perfect” before you work on that thing that you should actually be working on, weighing on your shoulders like your student debts and piling commitments.
And before you know it, the deadline is tomorrow. You dread working on it so much that while feeling so, you have wasted so much of your resources (time and energy procrastinating) by doing every other possible thing to make sure it’s “perfect” to just start.
If you’re stuck in this loop, know that there is no perfection to begin with. The only perfect way to do it is literally just do it.
Perfectionism shouldn’t be mistaken with excellence. If it’s not “perfect”, it does not mean that it’s not excellent. Excellence breeds from enjoying and learning the process of striving for your best and developing your confidence along the way. Contrastingly, perfectionism fosters negative feelings (ironically) as it incapacitates you from moving forward as your fear of failure and mistakes paralyses you. Learn to decouple your worth from your work.
Be aware of unrealistic expectations; you are after all your hardest critique. Break your own black-and-white brain (although it’s made up of grey matter) by breaking expectations of the things that you want “perfect” because that’s what’s causing your procrastination. Try visualising outcomes of the worst, best, and neutral scenarios from completing the task you’re procrastinating on - “neutral” being a realistic scenario from getting the job done. List them down and reset your expectations.
And if your fear of failure stems from being afraid of what others might think of your work, do remember that other people might be thinking the same way as you too! They are so wrapped up in themselves they won’t notice your “flaw”. No one else cares, no one else matters. Maybe except your bosses. But remember, if you don’t start, there will be no “failure” at all to begin with.
Even after all this and IF you still want it to be perfect, try doing a to-do list. Finish ticking them one by one by prioritising the urgent + important > urgent > important. Those individual tasks don’t have to be perfect, you just have to get them done and that’s what counts. Perfectionism is instead reflected on that to-do list that you’ve just ticked all the boxes. Try it, trick your mind. It gets the tough going. Or anything going at all. Just do it.