#MicroblogMondays: The Perfection Monster

Tea Bag Wisdom

Ah, the wisdom of tea bags. I need to write this quote on my wall so I see it throughout the day. The Perfection Monster sneaks up on me, prevents me from calling a new piece of work (whether visual art or writing) done. I’m constantly seeing something else that could be added or tweaked. If I let the Perfection Monster get to me, I’ll never get anywhere. (Yes, I just looked over at a painting that took two years for me to call “finished” and contemplate what lurks in my drafts folder…) Sometimes, we just have to say “DONE!” (or, alternatively, “fuck it!”) and sign that canvas, hit the “publish” button, without criticizing every last brush or key stroke.

I have found a couple things that help keep the Perfection Monster at bay:

1. I read major publications or other works I respect, and find typos. The grammar nerd in me is aggravated by any error I find, from dinner menus to magazine articles, I’m often appalled that something made it past editors paid to check for mistakes and hit the printer. However, if I pull back for a second, and simply acknowledge we all are just humans doing this work, none of us perfect, I realize my writing never needs to meet the infinite (and ever-climbing) bar I place upon myself.

2. When I head to a museum or gallery, I seek out pieces I’m attracted to or works by artists I have deep respect for. I stand in front of the picture and stare, looking for the mishaps, seeing where paint never hit the canvas, where a line was accidentally blurred, where a touch-up calls too much attention. I see that even the Masters, artists I look up to, aren’t perfect either. It’s an important acknowledgement: we aren’t machines. We breathe, we feel, we create. We make things, and a lot of times those things are flawed.

The fact we’ve opened ourselves up to create anything at all, that alone is beautiful, flaws and all.

What ways do you keep the Perfection Monster away? 

Thanks again to Stirrup Queens for #MicroblogMondays. I missed last week, but was really looking forward to coming back to it today. I went over the 8 sentence limit rule, but what can I say? Rebels gotta rebel.

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6 comments

  1. I’ve never been much of a perfectionist. Will it work? Is it right? Have I avoided mistakes as much as possible? Did I answer the question I was asked rather than all the questions, ever? Does it satisfy the need I was seeking to satisfy? Good enough, then.

    Plus, I work in state government, so “good enough for government work” is our favorite joke.

  2. I am not a perfectionist. It definitely makes life easier ( I work to a deadline on completing work, and accept I cannot make things perfect), but I review other people’s work as well and I am picky there!
    It also helps I can observe my perfectionist coworker struggling with that- reason to accept the imperfections.
    On the art – Smith College Art museum deliberately collected “imperfect” works of major artists- the unfinished, the odd view etc. it makes for an interesting collection. I don’t know if they openly admit it, one of my professors noted it many years ago.

    1. Yes, perfectionism is more of a curse than a blessing. I’m learning to manage mine, and that is a huge help.

      Love that Smith College collection! That inspires me to make a pinterest board or something with a few pieces that are “imperfect” to keep around when I need reminding & can’t head to a museum.

  3. It’s not the perfection monster I struggle with but the “not quite good enough” monster. Like, this could be better and therefore isn’t ready to be seen by anyone else because why would I want to waste their time with something sub-par? Except it never ends.

    1. Ah, yes! I’m familiar with the “not quite good enough” monster, also the “I don’t have enough experience” monster and the “I’ll never win/be hired/be selected” monster too. Many of us need to start nurturing our self-esteem a LOT more!

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