“Absolutism is a form of hiding. Perfect is the enemy of good.” -Seth Godin
I think of Seth Godin as a modern-day prophet. His wisdom, while given through the lens of business, applies to all aspects of life and is a great companion on the creative journey.
Seth talks about how the aim to be perfect is a detriment to success. You can see that dynamic at work in the creative world. Creatives tend to see or ‘feel’ what is needed to complete a picture and will get derailed by the inability to fill in the blanks. This hinderance could be due to lack of tools, lack of know-how, insecurity, or some other obstruction. This happens to me a lot.
Here are some of the ways I get stuck. I bet you can recognize some of these things in your process:
I start writing a blog post with an idea of what I want to say. I put down a few sentences and begin to doubt myself. I immediately, lose my way, get derailed, drop the post, and turn to chocolate and tv.
I start working on a composite image. I am free-flowing and don’t have a finished place to land. I like what I’m doing, but something feels incomplete, so I go looking at similar ideas online. I see a ton of beautifully executed work, and in comparison, my own falls short. I get derailed, stop working and start binging on tv.
I have collected several feathers. I know I want to photograph them, but don’t have a vision. I pick them up and put them down. They have sat on my desk for months now. All I need to do is walk to the next room, put them on my table, load my camera, and start photographing. I know that once I start looking through the lens, they will show me where to go, but somehow they sit on my desk. Not knowing where to end up keeps me from even beginning.
I am in the zone working on a project and want to do nothing else but work on it. I am neglecting other aspects of life which are suffering and eventually make an urgent call for my attention. I have to drop my project and attend to other matters. I am derailed and cannot get back to work at the pace that I want to.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? The solution to every creative problem is to DO SOMETHING. Take action! It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be right. Creativity just needs to be worked. Flexing your creative muscle is what feeds your muse, and being creative is what grows you into a vibrant, expressive being that sparks life with joy.
I take inspiration from professional Quilters. It could take a year or more to complete a single quilt. During the process, the quilter has learned new techniques or has found better ways of doing things, and when they finish, the quilt stands an expression of who they have become. The quilt exists holding the quilters errors and imperfections. They can see themselves grow through the process and to have a finished product; they have to accept the piece as a whole – Imperfection, newbie mistakes, and all.