Confessions of a Perfectionist
Yesterday I was scrolling on Instagram (most likely between the hours of 11pm and 2am) and I stumbled across a buzzfeed post that said:
“Anyone else in their 20s, but feel like they’re running out of time to get their life together?”
Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, but this message hit me hard. Like, right in the feels. I just turned 24, and I feel like there’s this underlying pressure to have it all and have it NOW. If we’re in our 20s we have to be living our best lives, working on that side hustle, and rebelling against corporate America, all while maintaining perfect mental and physical health.
For me, this pressure to have it all while I’m still in my 20s is magnified by my innate need to be perfect. When I began pursuing my writing career, my perfectionism manifested itself in the form of re-reading and revising chapters, googling synonyms and shuffling sentences around in Word.
In my pursuit for perfection as an aspiring author, I quickly fell into a black hole of unrealistic expectations. No matter how many improvements I made to a MS, nothing was ever good enough. I was afraid to submit anything that I viewed as “imperfect” to a writing contest, or even ask for feedback, because I didn’t want others to judge me. I didn’t want my friends, my family, or the writing community to think less of me. My perfectionism reared its ugly head over and over again and became a huge roadblock to success.
Once I opened my mind and focused on the realities of life vs. the lies that my perfectionism told me, I started making some real progress:
My perfectionism tells me 30 is the end. If I don’t get published in my 20s, I’m a failure and might as well quit. I have to become a NYT bestselling author before I’m 30, otherwise it’s never gonna happen.
The truth is 30 is not old. Life does not stop when you turn 30. People will still read your books when you are 30. In fact, some of my favorite authors are 30 (or older) and they are thriving. I think the life experiences they’ve been able to gain along the way makes their writing even better and their stories more dynamic. The truth is, I can impact my readers at any age. What really matters is the story itself, not how old I am when I tell it.
My perfectionism tells me I can’t sub to a writing contest (especially not Pitch Wars) until my MS is perfect. It’ll never be ready until I’ve re-read every line.
The truth is What you write won’t be perfect. Especially not the first draft of a MS. Or even the second. And that’s okay. Have the courage to sub anyway. I think I hide behind my perfectionism out of fear. Fear that I won’t win, fear of feedback, fear that I’m not cut out for this. The truth is, if I let my perfectionism take hold, I will never be able to share my stories with the readers who need them the most. And that’s just a shame.
Even as I write this, I am re-reading it, scanning for errors. But in the spirit of letting go of a little piece of my perfectionism… I’m posting this as is. So, I hope that you feel encouraged to keep writing, in spite of your perfectionism. Tap into it when it pushes you towards greatness and fosters your creativity. But drown it out when you feel your expectations start to become unattainable. Remember, it can only get better from here. So, keep your eyes on the prize, friends. You are good enough.
Jordan Alexandria is a sci-fi/fantasy author who cannot go a day without a cup of tea and a walk outdoors. When she’s not writing novels or working as a HR manager, Jordan enjoys lifting weights, escaping in a good book, and traveling on crazy adventures. She moves around a lot for work, but dreams of settling down one day so she can finally own a garden of succulents. You can find Jordan Alexandria on FB, as well as IG and twitter @imjustjordan04.