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Despite how many times we hear the phrase "nobody's perfect" it seems as though so many people still strive for perfection. In everything. It really is amazing at how much we ignore this phrase even though we spout it off as complete truth. So many people get caught up in an endless battle against perfectionism.
Writers, it would seem, also fall into this trap.
In fact, in many ways I believe the introspective nature of being a writer makes us even more susceptible to this trap. And if you want to make money as a freelance writer, it's a trap you're going to need to break free of.
The trap is that perfectionism can keep you feeling safe.
Especially if you allow it to hold you back from making a mistake.
If you don't get started on editing that book until you know you can devote the time and energy to do it perfectly, then you can't fail.
Reading it like this, the thought process definitely looks flawed. And it is. But at the same time, when it's going through your head, it doesn't seem quite as flawed.
Winning the Battle Against Perfectionism
So, what do you do when you get stuck in pursuit of perfection? Stop and ask yourself:
How perfect can you live with?
Even perfectionists know they can't be 100% perfect 100% of the time. So what can they live with? My answer the first time I asked myself was 98%.
What's your answer? Take your time and come up with something honest. And be honest. If you just don't think you can live with something less than 98% perfect then say that. There's no sense in lying to yourself here. Now, here's how knowing this number will help you.
At 98%, I am giving my self permission to completely muck up 2% without stressing out over it.
How does this help? Easy...
Every time I screw something up to the point where I just can't even look at it anymore, I just tell myself "we'll count that as part of my 2%".
I'm telling you, it's freeing. It might take some getting used to, giving yourself permission to mess up like that. But after a while, you'll be able to relax more and more and you'll find it easier to forgive yourself for the 2% of the time you're not absolutely perfect.
So, as a recovering perfectionist, I hope this little tidbit helps you get out of the perfectionism trap.
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