I was reminded a couple of weeks ago by my principal how much of a perfectionist I am. Teaching from a distance and not being able to check up on all of my students has been very difficult for me to stomach. He reminded me that I’m doing the work, and that’s all I can do right now.
Despite what it may sound like initially, I don’t expect perfection from others so much. We’re human and are prone to making mistakes. But I do expect it from myself much of the time, and it can become debilitating.
I will think through and plan and over plan situations so much that I manage to get a whole lot of nothing done if I don’t have some extrinsic motivation, like a deadline for work.
That has been the problem with writing here consistently. I have good intentions, but when I start thinking through an idea, I’ll often overthink it so much that I talk myself out of writing anything at all. I want everything that I post here to be absolutely perfect in every way, but if you asked me to define what that meant, I’d probably struggle to tell you.
Nevertheless, I opt out of writing much of anything more than I write something. To put it another way, I’ve chosen quality over quantity, but with no good rationalization for why or a solid idea of what quality actually means.
I’m trying to break out of that mold, and if there’s anything good about this social quarantine, it’s that I have quite a bit of time to hopefully break some old bad habits and replace them with better habits.
I have notebooks (plural – lots of them) in my desk and in various places around the house all with partial ideas of things to write about, few of which have been developed fully. My mental block is that I won’t take the time to do the messy work of thinking them through, messing up, and rewriting it again until it’s…acceptable. (I was going to write perfect.)
So I wrote Ernest Hemingway’s quote on a sticky note and placed it on the cork board above my desk.
“The first draft of anything is s**t. “
It’s a good reminder for me not just in dealing with my writing, but basically every other task in life. Very few things in life go exactly how we want them to the first time around. So we fall on our faces, we get back up, and we do it again. And if we’re smart about it, we learn from the mistakes we made so we don’t fail the same way again.
I need to quit thinking so much and react a little more. That’s the challenge that I’ve made for myself.
Now if I could just keep from overthinking it…