How to Write When You’re a Perfectionist

I’m a perfectionist.  One area of my life that this problem has affected is my writing.  I’ve let my perfectionism mess up my writing in so many ways.  I’ve over-analyzed ideas to the point that I don’t want to write them because I can only see faults in them instead of what’s right about them.  I’ve worried so much about how much work I get done that I end up getting nothing done because I’m so busy being anxious.  There have been times in my life when my desire to have everything be perfect all at once convince me that I’m not good at writing.

But, over time, I have learned a few tricks on how to keep this problem in check.  These tricks haven’t solved the problem, but they definitely help.  I still have days when I over-think and question myself.  But it’s getting better.

I thought that I would share with you a few of my tips on how to keep perfectionism from sabotaging your writing before you even get anything real done.  But, before we get into the post, I just wanted to say that you should stick around until the end, because I have an exciting announcement!

Don’t Outline

This may seem strange, but I write much better when I don’t outline my story.  Part of this is just a result of my personality and how I work.  But, there is something to be said for “pantsing” if you’re a perfectionist.

I know that, if I made a detailed outline for whatever story I was working on, I would instantly begin to find fault in it before I even wrote a single word.  My perfectionism would tear apart every good thing about the story and point out all of the flaws.

Outlines aren’t perfect, nor are they meant to be.  Their only job is to be a guideline for where the story is going to go.  But, when you have a problem with wanting everything to be perfect regardless of whether or not it matters, even simple roadmaps must be works of art.

So, I don’t let myself get to that point.  Instead, I have a broad idea of where I want the story to go, and I figure it out as I go along.  Doing that takes away an opportunity for my perfectionism to get in the way.

Make rules

I’m weird with rules.  I’m not a rebel by any means, but I also really dislike rules for myself.  I like giving myself a sense of structure and order where there might not be any.  Don’t get me wrong, this part of my personality can cause some issues, too.  But, when it comes to perfectionism, it’s a bit of a blessing.

What I mean by making rules is pretty self-explanatory.  Say you’re constantly self-sabotaging yourself in one area or another of your writing.  Instead of helplessly fighting with your perfectionist side for control, make a rule that you won’t worry about it until you edit the story or until you’ve written a certain number of words.

Making those rules, and actually sticking to them, really helps me.  That way, when it comes time for me to worry about whatever was bothering me, my story’s more formed and I have a better sense of where it’s going and if things that I thought wouldn’t work actually work fine.

Don’t Go Back Until You’re Done

This tip goes along with the previous one.  When you’re writing for your story, especially a long one and especially when you’re on the first draft, it’s easy to go back and start editing what you’ve written when you haven’t even finished the story yet.  And that’s fine.  But, it does pave the way to getting caught up in the details too early.

What I do is write the first draft all the way through, and I don’t read any of it again unless I’m looking for a specific piece of information that I wrote earlier in the story.  Once I’m completely done with the first draft, I’ll let myself go back and do whatever edits I need to do.

Don’t Obsess Over Your Word Count

One thing that I’m a perfectionist about is how much writing I get done in a day.  That obviously causes a problem.  Life happens.  Sometimes I’m able to get a lot done, and sometimes I don’t get anything done.

I’ve learned that it’s better for my sanity to not worry about it at all.  I do keep track of how much I write and when, but that’s more so I can see how much I write a day on average.  That allows me to set a goal that I can actually accomplish rather than some ideal of how much I could get done.  I also keep track of it simply so that I can look back and see when I hit certain milestones in my story’s word count.

There you have it!  Those are my tips for writing when you’re a perfectionist!  I know they won’t work for everyone, but, if there is something in here that helps you, let me know!  And if you have any suggestions yourself, leave a comment!  I would love to read them!

And, now, for my announcement!  You may have already seen this on my social media, but, if you haven’t, I wanted to announce that I’ve started a YouTube channel!

It’s dedicated to writing/books, so, if those are things you’re interested in, go take a look!  The link’s below!  I hope you like it!

Thanks for reading!


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