Mistakes & Perfectionism

Yes, we all make mistakes. ALL of us. Novice to expert. The question is how you deal with the mistake and why you made it in the first place.

Why are we so self-punishing for making a mistake?

Perhaps it’s the embarrassment, the fear of judgment or that it will impact on people’s perception of you in the future – in honesty, it’s likely all of these reasons.

Typically, especially as writers, we put a lot of pressure to be perfect and precise at all times. We’ve bought style guides and dictionaries and researched into the night…

Generally, trying your best is not a bad thing at all and well done you for having the care and passion to give it your all in the first place – but nobody is perfect. Trying to be is doing us no favours.

Let me tell you about some things I have discovered about perfectionism and trying to be everybody’s cup of tea:

1. If you write like everybody else and try to imitate a ‘perfect style’ people will see through your attempts and be turned off by the lack of originality. Nobody wants to hear the same voice talking all the time.

2. Your audience is just as imperfect as you are – ever thought that your accent can affect your writing? It can, and this can come in handy when writing for your local area and being aware of it can help when targeting others.

3. Over-editing. Sometimes we edit so much that we lose our way, fancy words and metaphors, adjectives upon adjectives, don’t try to sound too fancy and yet don’t cut out the point of your writing, just say what needs saying.

4. Learn from the mistakes you do make. If someone calls you out for an improper whom when it should’ve been a who then thank them, take note and move on. It’s a slip – in a world of text speak, evolving slang and hashtags it’s inevitable that our “acceptable” language skills evolve and we slip from the proper now and then. Fretting about this sort of thing AFTER publication is a bit like checking calories after a meal. Too late for now, good to remember for the future. Don’t waste time bashing yourself so hard that you can’t move on from it.

Do you let your fear of making mistakes hold you back?

Perhaps your perfectionism is overwhelming you – don’t think you’re alone. You can drop a comment here or I’d recommend that you talk to a writing community elsewhere if not here about it. We all make mistakes and we are not perfect, don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes, share your lessons learned and ask for help and advice when you need to.

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