It dawned on me this week that I’ve a bit of a problem with publishing posts.
As I write this there are precisely sixteen other articles languishing in my drafts, each in various stages of completion.
I’m the Queen of Drafts.
Behind the scenes of this blog, I’m writing more than ever. You’ll have to trust me when I say I’m writing my heart out.
Yet this clearly isn’t reflected in my rates of publications. Why?
One word: Perfectionism
It’s defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a “refusal to accept any standard short of perfection”. (For anyone who lives under a rock, though even then you’re likely to worry about living under the “right” rock – ergo you already know what I’m talking about.)
In this particular situation my perfectionistic streak shows in my inability to craft my words to the level I’d like my writing to reach before I’m ready to share it with the world.
Apparently, I’m not alone in this quest for perfection. Reading Corbett Barr‘s post about how to “write epic sh*t” this week, I learnt that it takes “professional” bloggers far longer than I thought to write, edit, and publish posts.
What a relief! Knowing it can take Pat Flynn over eight hours to write a single blog post lifts at least some of the pressure off little ol’ me. If it takes time for the big-time bloggers to make stuff that matters, then it’s reasonable to expect it’ll take time for me, too. Therefore it’s probably pushing it to want to publish something long-form two or three (or more) times a week, plus put in the requisite hours for my full-time gig, and have enough time left over to take care of my body, brain, and boyfriend (in that order – sorry C).
Perhaps I’ve some rather unrealistic expectations for myself. Being a skeptical soul, I suspect it’s not only me who thinks this way.
Clearly, Steph Crowder of “Courage and Clarity” and “Fizzle” fame (in the world of entrepreneurial podcasts) agrees. She recently wrote a Monday Motivation post in her Facebook group for female entrepreneurs about how what she terms “B-minus work” can change lives:
“If PERFECT is in your language, we gotta take it down SEVERAL notches.
Just. Show. Up. Give me your B- Work.”
Steph Crowder via Facebook
When it comes to us women (some blokes and non-binary persons, too, of course), what we as individuals deem our B-minus work – the stuff we’d label “acceptable” or at a push “good enough” rather than being ourtip-top best – is often exactly what someone else needs to hear.
In case that doesn’t read too well, given my myriad mid-sentence interruptions, I’ll say it again:
When it comes to us women what we as individuals deem “acceptable work” is often exactly what someone else needs to hear.
In trying to achieve something “perfect” there’s at least a chance however small – we could be preventing someone from finding precisely the help, advice, or inspiration they need in exactly the right moment. Okay, so this isn’t scientifically proven per say, but I’d hedge my bets that most experts would agree with me on this one. “Experts” being used here to refer anyone half-way intelligent who might ever have said something even slightly supporting the point I’m making here.
I’m a prime example of the problem at play here. I hold myself back because I believe that my writing’s not “good enough” yet for public consumption. Note here the words highlighted – in bold, italics, and underlined, in case you missed it.
In truth, my work is most likely already good enough. Even if it isn’t when I publish a post, then chances are I’d soon know about it and can make amends. You know, I can edit, rewrite, even delete if it’s that bad – or – wait for it – I can choose to let it be imperfect. Revelatory stuff indeed.
Instead, I continue to tell myself the same self-destructive story – that I’m not good enough, and anything I do inevitably won’t be good enough either. It’s a bit embarrassing to think that, in spite of this navel-gazing, I still make this mistake. It’s frustrating and disheartening to repeat the same errors.
And so I’m trying to become more comfortable with being a B-minus student sometimes, at least when it comes to writing. Easier said than done, I’m learning to let go and release my creative endeavours at least a little sooner. Hopefully, my efforts at getting comfy with being uncomfy will be rewarded when my words reach those who most need to read them.
Speaking of which, I better get on with my weekly dose of thankfulness while my writing’s still relevant!
This Week I’m Grateful for:
TWIG #1: A Saturday afternoon out with C. Last weekend we went to Salts Mill, a former 19th Century industrial mill which now houses art, shops, and cafes at the heart of a model village in Saltaire, Bradford. It’s . After a quick stroll and a poke in a few antiques shops, C let me loose in what’s one of my most favourite bookshops.
Whenever we visit I come home with a new book or journal. This time, I ended up with both: “The Program” – young adult dystopian fiction by Suzanne Young – and two sketch books. I plan to use the latter for creative brainstorming, free of the constraints of their linear cousin, the notebook. Of course no day out would be complete without cake so we made time for tea.
TWIG #2: My growing confidence in my business competence.
(Try saying that when you’ve had a few!)
You likely know about my most recent mental meltdown, which makes everything more difficult, as depression is want to do. However this past week helped me see I’m more capable than I believed myself to be.
I’m from a business background, academically and professionally. Yet I’m reticent to declare myself expert in anything for fear of being “found out” lacking somehow. Like many other women I speak to, I’ve a chronic case of imposter syndrome, scared to step up and risk being seen for fear of public failure.
I’ve had enough of this self-doubt. So I’m intentionally collecting evidence to prove to myself that I’m already an intelligent professional. As you’ll see, I’ve gathered some examples already this week:
- I’ve been consulting for a copy-editor – far further along in her entrepreneurial “journey” than I, sharing my ideas around content, copy, and design for her email opt-in.
- I asked off-the-cuff questions during a Fizzle Friday coaching session, during which I was thanked by someone I admire for my contributions to the forum.
- Other entrepreneurs have sought me out to specifically ask for my opinion on their business issues.
All of which shows that I have something of value to offer. The more I help others, the more I recognise that I’m actually good at this stuff. Not only have I got a ton of relevant experience to share (I sometimes forget that I’m 34, not 14), but I’m also bringing my own creativity to the table. Somewhere down the line there’s potentially a business idea there, which feels super-exciting!
TWIG #3: This utterly gorgeous photo of our cats! They’d jumped onto the garage windowsill to steer clear of C reversing the car. They stayed put long enough for C to park up and then take this fantastic photo.
I think it captures their personalities perfectly. Typically cheeky, D’s pushed his way to the front. (He gets away with it for being so cute.) K is that bit more cautious, carefully contemplating things from a bit further back. She lets D think he’s getting his way, but it’s her slinky self that’s actually in charge.
Unsurprisingly, this picture received the highest number of “likes” I’ve ever received for a picture on Facebook. If I wasn’t so enamoured of this pair, I’d probably take offence!
TWIG #4: The prospect of renovating our house is becoming real! Now we’ve nearly completed the sale of our old house we’ll soon have sufficient funds to start work.
I arranged for a builder to come give us a quote. Extremely chatty (I had been warned), he was enthusiastic about our ideas and advised us on the next steps. As such, we’ve since arranged for quotes from two window companies, a structural engineer, and a kitchen company in the coming weeks.
Best by far was our visit to a kitchen designer, who took C’s technical drawings (on squared paper, using laser measurements) and created a 3D-interpretation of my dream kitchen. Excitedly, it looks almost exactly how I imagined, which feels inspiring and motivating to move forward with making our dream home a reality.
TWIG #5: Going back to the gym. After a month’s hiatus (the first in four years or more), I checked my kit fit (it did!) and went to class last Tuesday. Turns out this wasn’t anywhere near as scary as I’d build it up to be in my head. I should have known; this is pretty much always the case with anxiety.
Still, it was a relief to keep pace with classmates, finishing on a bit of a high and feeling a hundred times better after class than before. Calorie-burning aside, I remembered why kept going to the gym in the first place. I’ve booked again for this Tuesday.
Okay, so I can’t take all the credit for getting back to the gym. There’s a chance I’d have headed home, except that my colleague F had coaxed me to class. She stood by my desk, waiting whilst I slowly shutdown my PC. Though having a bit of extra encouragement certainly helped me overcome my objections to exercise, I’m still proud of myself for making small steps in the right direction.
TWIG #6: Being able to feel loved by my family. That’s not a poorly-structured sentence (perhaps it is, but it’s not intentional) but is a genuine expression of gratitude on my part.
This is because depression disconnects. It puts up an invisible wall. When my mind is in a mess, this barrier between myself and others is especially impermeable. It’s hard for me to show love and it’s equally difficult for me to receive it. It’s painful on both accounts.
However since finding the right medication for me, I’m experiencing positive feelings much more often. This sounds dramatic, but anything that breaks through the kind of emotional numbness depression brings is nothing short of miraculous.
TWIG #7: I rescued a frog!
Finally, on a far lighter note, I can proudly say I single-handedly rescued a frog this evening.
I heard the tell-tale chew toy squeak that I’ve learnt terrorised frogs make, so I rushed – okay, I was guilted off the sofa by C, who sent me out in my pyjamas – to the rescue! Our two ferocious felines had cornered the poor fella. Bravely, I shielded the frog with my bare hands until C came with an old ice-cream tub to transport our new friend safety to the neighbour’s pond.
I’ll conclude my gratitudes with this – my contribution to the safe-keeping of our local wildlife population!