Tag Archives: Perfectionist

On the Diagnosis and Treatment of Acute Perfectionitis

Recently I received an email notification about this blog post in my inbox. It took me a little off guard because I didn’t remember when I had subscribed to this particular blog. But when I read the post I remembered. It had just been a long time since the blog had updated.

In the post itself the blog’s author discussed how growing doubt and uncertainty had kept her from posting anything in over a month, how that she had agonized over whether her writing was really good enough and how people would receive her work. It was a beautifully written piece, and I thought it was terribly courageous for this woman to share her fears so freely.

She’s not the only one with this problem either. I suffer from the same thing every week, and I suspect some of you do too.

“But Albert,” you may say, “Your blog updates every day (barring Sundays.) Surely you’ve conquered those demons of self doubt by now.”

Nope. Sorry to say I haven’t. See I suffer from a little thing called perfectionitis. Totally a real disorder. Not one I just made up as I was typing that sentence at all.

Perfectionitis is that feeling you get when you look back over your blog post and it just doesn’t look quite right. Something’s off. Maybe it doesn’t flow the way you wanted it to. Maybe it meanders from the originally prescribed topic. Maybe you can’t think of a third thing for your list of maybes.

You start to panic. “This is crap,” you think to yourself. “If I post this they’ll eat me alive. All my followers will leave and never return. Oh despair!”

Calm. Down.

You’re going off the rails. What you really need is a healthy dose of Truth to straighten you out. So here goes:

Truth Number One: your blog is not perfect.

Face it. You made a mistake somewhere along the way.

There’s a typo in your post somewhere. That sentence you’re closing the post with just doesn’t really give a good feeling of conclusion.  You can’t think of a good third thing in your list of things that might be wrong with a blog post (seriously this one gets me every time.)

Whatever. Nobody’s perfect. I’m not perfect. You’re not perfect. We aren’t going to bat a thousand every game. This is a fact of life. Deal with it.

Fact Number Two: it doesn’t matter.

Here’s a little tidbit that will shock your socks off: Your readers do not hate you. They are not sitting at the edge of their chairs peering into their screens and thinking, “Aha! I found a typo! All my months of waiting have finally paid off. To the comments!”

Probably they’re people just like you. They’re reading your blog because they think you might have something interesting to say. The truth is, most people want to like your blog.

They aren’t looking for a reason to leave. They’re looking for a reason to stay.

You do not have to be perfect.

Fact Number Three: consistency is just as important as quality.

Please note that I did not say that quality is unimportant. This is another area where you need that magic quality of balance. Yes, you should be concerned with how well you’ve written your blog. Yes, you should check your work as best you can.

But if you can’t get it perfect post it anyway.

Here’s a fact that probably won’t shock you. Almost every website that I visit regularly updates regularly. My favourite blogs are the ones that have new posts multiple times a week. And not all those posts have to be perfect and wonderful for me to keep coming back to those blogs.

A while back, Chuck Wendig made a few posts about playing the game Minecraft. I have zero interest in Minecraft, but I didn’t say, “Well Chucky I’ll be taking my blog reading services elsewhere thank you very much.” Because the next day he had another post and another one on the day after that, they had something I could learn from.

Bottom line is this: we are creatures of habit. If you post the single greatest blog post in the history of the world and then stop, chances are no one is going to notice. If you want to gain any kind of following you have to keep pushing through that demon of doubt.

And who knows? You might not love that blog post but someone else might. Often we criticize ourselves so harshly we forget to see the good in our work.

So that’s my two cents worth. I hope that it’s given you some encouragement. But if not, then stick around. I’ll try something else tommorow.