Avoiding Perfectionism

I’ve struggled a lot with perfectionism in all kinds of things, even became an engineer and programmer in part because it was a place where my perfectionism actually paid off for me. But what I’ve learned in doing software and business process work is your process is never going to be perfect, so the way to get better is to do more of whatever it is that is working for you, and less of the things that don’t work for you and your business. It applies also to art and to all kinds of things you may do in your life.

Letting go of the need to be perfect, letting yourself make mistakes and giving yourself the space to make them, is what lets you develop and grow in your ability to do more and more. Roz’s points here aren’t just on journaling, but also on a creative approach to living your life in ways that encourage your creativity and abilities.

Via “Roz Wound Up”:

Here’s one way people get caught. They confuse art journals or art books or artists books with visual journals. An art journal over time, because of the word “art” in the naming, tends to take on a certain importance and preciousness. The maker begins to see it as art and as art the book has to be important, special…and all the related baggage those thoughts lead to.

The urge, need, and desire for profundity creeps in—only now it’s a need applied to technique. “If only I could sketch like [fill in the name of the artist whose work you admire],” “If only I had control of [fill in the medium you wish you had better skills with],” “If only I could [draw, understand color theory, grasp notan, etc.].”

If your skills are highly developed and you have a style or approach and each page you produce is a stunning work of art don’t change a thing. You’re producing and it’s working for you. Great. We all know artists like that.

For me, those books aren’t working journals in the way I need my journal to function. I don’t want the same things. If I want to do a finished piece I’ll do it outside my journal. Then it’s much easier for me to display it, reproduce it for print, etc.

I need to experiment in my journal, constantly, all the time. It’s the experimentation that moves me forward. It is this need to experiment that has moved me forward my whole journaling life, which started when I was a child.

The risk taking involved in this approach is play for me. And the results don’t matter because I’m the audience and what matters is the process, not the finished product. The process is happening now; I’m learning from the process and it’s all good, even if the pages aren’t “perfect.”

…You are starting where you are, right now. That’s a wonderful gift. It’s a gift you get to open everyday, each time you open your journal, and you begin that conversation between yourself and the page.

Each time you hold that conversation the dialog deepens, the vocabulary expands, the felicity increases, the dance becomes more effortless. Everything else falls away. That’s the perfection.