Perfection Paralysis

This is a sort of companion piece to my post last week because I saw a very short post here about doing less. It really hit home with me because I’m just as bad as Shawn about wanting everything to be perfect when I write it or create it.

Maximizing Mistakes

One of the things that I’ve noticed in a lot of content that I’ve been consuming recently is the inclusion of mistakes. When you’re writing you have ample access to a backspace key so typos shouldn’t exist (and autocorrect can bugger off). But in video and audio content you can often make a mistake and not even realize it. Flubbing a word or needed to do a retake for something happens quite often, even if you never see or hear them.

What has me curious and a bit interested is that more of those quick errors are making it in. These are things that could easily be fixed in post production and yet they stay. It’s almost like the creators are admitting that mistakes happen and it’s hard to read scripts perfectly every time like some kind of robot. Honest mistakes over things like pronunciation or difficult word combinations help remind us that not everything needs to be exactly perfect every time.

That’s not to say that you can get away with not doing things with the appropriate amount of practice. The difference between a simple mistake in a long passage of text and a haphazard idea just thrown out there without care is very apparent. As I tell the people that I work with for public speaking, the more something sounds off the cuff the more practice went into it to make it sound natural.

Accumulating Assets

My friend Ivan Pepelnjak reached out to me after my last post and reminded me of something he wrote a decade ago that talks about his view of the creative process. One of the big takeaways for me was the section on ideas. It’s important to realize that nothing will spring forward from your mind completely realized.

It’s a lot like baking. The ingredients are easy enough to measure. The trick is mixing them together. You have to add the right ideas in the right amounts and then let them mix together and even settle a little bit before you can make something out of them. However, you also have to be careful about how you go about doing it. Mixing merengue is a very different skill than a pound cake. Some things shouldn’t be mixed too much lest they become ruined by the extra attention. It is entirely possible to do too much to ideas without realizing it.

Tom’s Take

If you find yourself struggling with creativity or need to figure out a way to make something happen don’t be afraid to mix things up a little. Go for a walk. Play some music to force your brain into a new space. Look over your collection of half-formed ideas and see what pops up. Make something happen to change the status quo. You’d be surprised what might happen. But above all don’t get stuck on the idea that it needs to be perfect. The best ideas are very often imperfect.