A couple of podcasters interviewed me last week for the EFF Perfect show. (Great chat. It’ll be out in June.)
We talked all about how perfectionism erases us.
I said things like, “While we sit on the sidelines waiting to create the perfect thing, we end up never saying anything at all.”
You know. My shtick.
Toward the end, one of the hosts asked me,
“OK, so how DO YOU actually get over your perfectionism to write and publish something?”
Now, if you’ve ever asked me a question about writing, you know I respond with something like,
“Well it often—but not always—depends and there are exceptions to every rule and I will tell you what I think but I WOULD ACTUALLY LIKE TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK YADDA ET CETERA. …What were we talking about again?”
But I didn’t do that this time because, you know what?
I knew the answer.
I exhaled and said,
“You only write when it’s easier to write than not to write.”
Most people are not ready. I know, because for so long, I wasn’t ready.
Instead I was doing things like getting different, slightly better and slightly higher paying jobs, moving cities, moving apartments, traveling around Central America, dating people, breaking up with people, drinking really delicious cocktails, baking, oh yeah and writing… 11 pages of a book… that I probably won’t ever continue. Also, I was attending things. (I miss attending things.)
I found it easier to do all those things than I found it to sit down and write about my most cherished ideas.
Moving across the country (again) was easier. Competing in 3 triathlons within a year of birthing my first son was easier.
After a while, not writing stopped being easier.
I didn’t wake up one day and flip a switch.
I needed that time spent doing all those other things so I could wander closer and closer to a place where not writing became more painful than writing.
Not expressing—not exploring—where my life’s work lay became too painful.
I don’t write weekly so that I can add another to-do to my endless list. I write weekly to alleviate the pain that I feel that I’ve spent 20 years of adulthood not saying what I want to say.
I’ve arrived at that place. That’s why my writing practice has stuck. Maybe you’re wandering closer to that place, too.
Maybe you’re not wandering all that close yet. You need to set and reach other goals. You need to distract yourself. You need to feed the dream. Or you need to let the dream come terrifyingly close to dying.
I am here if you feel more ready than usual, and you want to talk about a process that takes you from feeling ready to voicing and crystallizing your biggest ideas. (Just email me at maggie at maggiefrankhsu dot com.)
I’m here if you don’t feel ready yet. That is OK, too.
And I’m glad you’re here. It means a lot.