Four Steps to Break Through Your Need for Your Writing to be Perfect

It seems that part of the struggle that we can have with writing is a subtle, almost undetectable fear of permanence when writing. Questions can come up like: what if this changes? what if this isn’t quite right and I want to change it later? What is it’s not quite perfect?

When our thoughts and ideas are in a form that is less permanent, for e.g. when we are talking, we are less attached to it and we can feel more free about sharing. When our thoughts and ideas are in a more permanent form, e.g. words typewritten on a page, we become more attached to it and feel less comfortable creating it or sharing it. 

This can be an easy way for our brain to get into an inaction feedback loop. Especially if we like things to be perfect. We can decide that we are not going to type it out on the screen until it’s perfect and then we don’t end up typing anything. 

Or we can end up at the other end of the spectrum: continually talking about our thoughts and ideas to keep our options open and not committing, sharing or contributing them. 

If this rings true for you, the thought of actually publishing something may multiply this fear for you because publishing feels very permanent, which translates to this has got to be very perfect. This may cause you to not even start writing for fear of making a mistake in a permanent way. 

Here’s what I’ve found for myself and my clients are simple steps to begin to break up this inaction loop by bridging the perception of permanence by using pen and paper: 

1) Talk out your thoughts and ideas with a trusted colleague or friend. 

2) Use a pen and paper to write out your thoughts and ideas for something specific that you are writing. Cautionary note: This may feel like it will take too much time, but remember inaction also takes up time. You can watch yourself create time by using this process. 

Here’s what pen to paper looked like for this blog post.

3) Focus on just transferring your thoughts to a typed page (without correcting them at first).
4) Read through and make changes to refine your work and ready it for sharing and moving through the writing process. 

If you want to take this work deeper and learn why it’s hard to create something permanent, turn to your journaling and take a look at your thoughts and feelings that come up around permanence or perfection. Is it that you are afraid to make a mistake? That you are afraid you haven’t done enough? Are you concerned that what you have to share is not worthwhile? Is it because it opens us up more completely to criticism? This is where the good stuff is – what’s that about for you and bringing an understanding to yourself about why those thoughts and feelings are coming up for you can be very powerful although often challenging to move through on our own. 

If you feel like you would like to take this work deeper and understand more about the perfectionist patterns that you are following in your writing and in your life that may be holding you back, I invite you to connect with me for a complimentary Discovery Call where we will look at what’s happening for you and whether the work that I do is a good fit for you. 


PS – this is my one year anniversary for my blog! Thank you for the opportunity to learn, share and grow with you. I am so grateful to my readers and clients for inspiring me to connect and interact with the world in this way. 

PPS This work has been inspired by my clients and colleagues who have shared these experiences with me and reminded me of the power of the process of using a pen and paper to bridge the permanence gap that I use so often that I had forgotten what a powerful tool it is. 

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