The search for perfection has stopped the birth of more great ideas than war, famine, and downed internet connections combined. We’re afraid if we don’t look perfect, if we don’t come across as all-knowing and flawless, then we’ll expose ourselves as who we really are–imperfect, constantly learning, deliciously human.
The thing is, it’s okay to be all those things. In fact, you’ll be a better, more effective writer if you accept and (gasp!) celebrate imperfection rather than run from it. How’s that, you ask? Won’t you be revealed for the interloper you really are? Won’t you be laughed at and your writing expunged from the land of legitimacy?
The opposite is true. Perfection is impossible, because it’s subjective. One reader’s idea of ideal will be another person’s version of garbage, and the rest will find perfection in between. What reader’s sense is genuineness. They can smell a fake a cyber mile away.
No one is perfect, including you. Admit it and you will win admirers. Deny it and you will be distrusted.
So below I’ve listed 3 key reasons why you should abandon the search for perfection. Why you should let that piece go out into the world, whether blog, academic article, business book, or literary tome, and stop trying to achieve the impossible.
1) Trust the reader – they’re smarter than you think.
I once spent a few hours hanging out in the studio of an artist friend of mine. She painted oils, successfully, in the beautiful land of South Africa. Her style was of landscapes, blurred, lacking in detail, but yet powerful beyond words. I asked her about this, and her reply was startling.
“It’s in those very imperfections that the viewer begins to engage. They fill in the blanks, add what works in their mind, in their heart and back story. If I did it all for them there would be nothing left.
The same holds true for your writing. You simply don’t need to tell your reader every single blasted detail about what you want to say. They don’t need it, and more importantly, they don’t want it. Subconsciously or not, people want to fill in the blanks. It feels good. It makes us work to figure things out and therefore have ownership in the results.
When we participate we actually understand more deeply the message you want to deliver. And, we enjoy the journey more.
So trust your readers to fill in the gaps for you, whether intentional or not. Trust them to want to understand your message and work with you to achieve that.
2) Your message will get through. (Really, it will.)
As you trust the reader, so trust yourself. As your reader is smart and willing to participate, so are you. You will do your best to express your message, and that best will be enough.
“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.”
“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.”
3) The power within imperfection
Your writing imperfections actually pack punch on your behalf. This is done in three ways:
It’s the heart of your message and your voice that matter. These will come through, they will, really. Those little imperfections along the way reveal your humanness. Chances are – get this – the reader won’t even notice the imperfections. All that wasted worry for . . . nothing.
Letting go of being perfect allows the creative process to come out and play. Creativity and perfection are arch enemies, like good and evil, oil and water, cats and dogs. Your quest for perfection will squash your subconscious muse like a bug under a boot.
Your ego thrives on the illusion of perfection. And your ego will kill your writing faster than anything. You must be humble to go to deep places. You must go to deep places to get to the core of your message. This is what separates you from everyone else; this is what your readers want. They want to see You, warts and all.
The quest for imperfection is an illusion. Instead, turn this delusion into an advantage. Use your humanness to make your point even clearer. Use your humanness to gain trust, and your readers will follow you anywhere.