This is a guest post from Victoria Greene.
Here it is. Are you ready?
One of the most pervasive problems that artists suffer from – now and throughout history. It gives rise to the detestable feeling of gazing at your canvas in bitter disappointment as yet another painting fails to match up to your impossibly high expectations. Screw it! Might as well scrape it all off and start again!
Perfectionism isn’t pleasant. It’s certainly not productive. And it’s not making your efforts to make money from your art any easier.
IN FACT, IT’S MAKING IT TEN TIMES MORE DIFFICULT.
Not every piece of work turns out exactly as we imagine. That’s ok – it’s the nature of the beast. And yet it’s holding so many artists back, many of whom are incredibly talented but lack the confidence in themselves to be ok with creating something ‘imperfect’.
A lot of artists don’t make it, and for many it’s because they fail to realise that to succeed in art, you must also succeed in business.
But perfectionism is a different kind of problem – and one that can be more difficult to get over.
BECAUSE PERFECTION IS UNATTAINABLE.
There is no perfect painting, no perfect drawing, no perfect sculpture… anywhere in the world.
Art is pure subjectivity – therefore, perfection is impossible. And attempting to achieve the impossible every day can be really quite frustrating.
Being too much of a perfectionist can severely damage productivity, as well as motivation, because perfection is just one side of the coin.
The other side?
PERFECTIONISTS ARE ALSO PROCRASTINATORS.
The two go hand-in-hand. Perfectionists always need more time, they can’t work unless everything feels ‘just right’, and their fear of making mistakes means they will continually put things off.
But if this is your livelihood, you can’t afford to wait until what feels like the right moment. You need to be as productive as possible.
Perfectionism actually has close links with depression and often leads to obsessive worrying and self-doubt, the bedfellows of indecision.
When artists are in this state, they often end up putting things off.
Everything becomes a distraction. The feeling can start to appear insurmountable and we feel helpless. So we give up. And when the end of the day rolls around, we have nothing to show.
Are you a perfectionist?
Let’s find out. Does any of the following sound familiar?
- Lack of motivation to start working
- Time seems to drag while working
- You get hung up on the smallest details
- You stop putting your work out there for others to see
- Loss of creativity and enjoyment
- Opting for ‘safe’ over ‘bold’
If so, you might be a perfectionist.
That isn’t necessarily too terrible. We all experience some degree of perfectionism from time to time; what’s important to notice is when it’s getting out of hand and having a detrimental impact on your ability to be productive.
MANY PERFECTIONISTS FEEL DRIVE TO BECOME MASTERS OF THEIR CRAFT.
A high standard of work is, of course, desirable. But when pushed to the extreme? It’s crippling.
You may feel a certain amount of romantic obligation to ‘suffer for your art’. But do you really need to suffer?
Does your family also suffer when you insist on working well into the night?
Do your friends call, only to go through to voicemail once again?
Or perhaps you force yourself out of the house only to find that you’re still back there, obsessing, in your mind.
If your inner perfectionist shouts so loud that it’s the only voice you hear, then this is the time to seek help and negate your unhealthy all-or-nothing mindset.
Barbra Streisand once said that “perfection is cold, but imperfection has humanity in it”.
Overcoming perfectionist tendencies is a lot to do with learning to let go and establishing a greater sense of confidence in yourself – one that enables you to take action and make decisions, rather than getting yourself stuck in a rut.
Yes, having high standards can lead to great work and ensure that you are always improving.
Having impossibly high standards can lead to no work at all, along with the gradual dissolution of your self-esteem.
Never allow perfectionism to run riot and destroy your creative process.
The best artists make mistakes – and then they learn from them.
Victoria Greene is a brand marketing consultant and freelance writer. She works with ecommerce businesses and entrepreneurs to create valuable content and marketing strategies that yield strong results. She is always happy to share her knowledge and loves discovering new ways to stay productive and embrace her creative side. Want more awesome advice from Victoria? I love this article about what to focus on instead of being bogged down by perfectionism.