Creative activities can be a daunting thing especially when we want the result to be perfect the first time. Perfect as in the result is “done right”, “what we expect”, “exactly what we wanted”, “completely successful”, “without failure or problems”, etc. As adults, I think we forget how to learn and make mistakes, and how to fail, so we expect our creative activities to be like things we have been doing our whole lives. We expect a certain success and quality to our actions and the results of those actions.
The Practical Perfectionist
But a lot of times, getting something “perfect” takes a LOT longer than the more simply goal of getting something “done”. It’s like doing 90% of the job takes 10% of the effort (getting a version of the result “done”) and making the result perfect is 10% of the job but takes 90% of the effort. Yuck! These people are practical perfectionists because they are perfectionists in practice, in their actions.
The Theoretical Perfectionist
Sometimes, people are inactive because they are perfectionists… these are the theoretical perfectionists because they only contemplate the outcome, and they want the activities and results to have perfect predictable outcomes before they start. If they can’t contemplate an outcome that is free of problems (or whatever they are avoiding/grasping with their perfectionism) then they don’t take action. This type of person is a perfectionist in their thoughts. They waste the potential of their creativity because they never take a risk and follow through with any activities.
Look around you at the Perfectionists. Yawn. Is that what you want for yourself? Are you either of those?
Protect your Creative Resources
Practical perfectionism and theoretical perfectionism are both detrimental for creativity because they soak up resources better spent brainstorming, trying things, exploring, and overcoming failure, etc.
Perfection wastes your creative resources (it is a creative resource pisser-awayer!)
“Done” completes 90% of result with 10% of effort.
“Perfect” completes 10% of result but takes 90% of effort. Or “perfect” doesn’t actually exist. Sigh.
Since creativity takes more effort and resources than habitual activities it means that all the extra resources put into making something “perfect” isn’t going toward the ultimate goal of “being creative”: you aren’t generating ideas, trying ideas out, or getting feedback.
Let go of some perfectionism in order to protect your creative resources.
Graphic “Checklist” by Gregor Črešnar at The Noun Project.