By Jennifer Blanchard
American author and cartoonist, James Thurber, said the words that I used for this post’s title: “Don’t get it right, get it written.”
Thurber was 100 percent correct with this statement.
Get it written first, then edit it and get it right.
Perfectionism can sometimes take over your life. It can seep into all areas, causing you to even avoid attempting things for fear you won’t be able to do it perfectly.
In fact, perfectionism is a leading cause of procrastination and writers not finishing their projects.
But what does perfectionism look like?
According to James J. Messina, Ph.D. in his article, Overcoming Perfectionism, perfectionism is:
- “The irrational belief that you and/or your environment must be perfect;
- “striving to be the best, to reach the ideal and to never make a mistake;
- “a habit developed from youth that keeps you constantly alert to the imperfections, failings and weaknesses of yourself and others;
- “an attitude that whatever you attempt in life must be done letter-perfect with no deviation, mistakes, slip-ups or inconsistencies;”
- “the underlying motive present in the fear of failure and fear of rejection;
- “a rigid, moralistic outlook that does not allow room for humanism or imperfection;
- “the belief that no matter what you attempt it is never ‘good enough’ to meet your own or others’ expectations.”
For more on Overcoming Perfectionism, read Messina’s article.
I have to admit that I’m a bit of a perfectionist myself. OK, I’m a little MORE than just slightly a perfectionist. (I am a Virgo, after all.)
I am always bad-mouthing my writing by saying that it’s juvenile or crappy.
But the truth is, it’s not. It’s just a first draft. And in order for me to get to a second draft, I have to get the first draft written.
That would never happen though with my perfectionist ways. I spend more time deleting lines and rewriting them than I do just getting the words down on the page.
But I don’t want to do that anymore. (And I’m sure you don’t either.)
So what I propose is that we all take on Thurber’s quote as our writing mantra, and as a way for us to turn off our inner editor and get our writing done.
If you accept Thurber’s quote as your writing mantra, write it down and post it near your writing space. Then whenever you feel your inner editor or inner perfectionist creeping up, repeat Thurber’s line out loud (or in your head if you don’t want others to hear): “Don’t get it right, get it written.”
Do you have a writing mantra? What is it?