How Perfection Can Kill Your Writing (and your mind)

Hey guys! I'm back!
First things first: the blog is completely new! The name has been changed! Everything is different! Ahhhh!
Yes, this is true--and I will get to all of it soon! But first, I wanted to take some time to get a little real about something that unfortunately, I've seen a lot of writers, bloggers, and authors struggle with: perfection.


As most of you know, I took a pretty sudden break from my blog, Twitter, and Pinterest last week. It wasn't really something I was planning on doing until last Monday, when I realized that I have been making myself go absolutely crazy.
Lately my stress levels have been through the roof because I have been so focused on trying to grow my audience and my platform and reach more writers. It got to the point that I began to feel anxious if I didn't check my follower count on Pinterest and Twitter every hour. And if I lost followers, I would honestly feel like I had a rock in my stomach. 
Why did they unfollow me? What if I lose even more followers? What if all of this work I do ends up being for nothing?
Yeah. Bad, isn't it?
It can be so, so easy for writers to get caught up in trying to be perfect. We try to write every day, we try to have an awesome online presence, we try to give advice through blogging--and we try to do it all perfectly.

The idea of failure is scary.

I tend to be especially hard on myself because one of my biggest fears is failing. I am so afraid of putting my heart and soul into everything I do and having it all end up failing in the end. Because of that, there are times when I will push myself and push myself to be better until I feel like I'm going to have a breakdown.
This past month has been one of those times. Since putting Unperfected on hold, I've felt that I needed to prove to myself and everyone around me that I can write a book and get it published. My friends and family have watched me write and rewrite Unperfected so many times that now that I've put it aside, it feels like I've lost some of their belief in me. And while that may or may not be true, I began to push myself to treat writing like my second job.
At first, it was easy. The family I nanny for just had a baby so I had some time off for a while and didn't work a full schedule. At the beginning of March, I had an entire week off and spent the whole week writing non-stop. I even finished the first draft of my new project, Awaken, in four days! Granted, I was about 20K under my word limit. So I decided to break the chapters into separate documents and add words chapter by chapter.
However, the next week it was back to work full time--now with a three-year-old and a newborn. I told myself I would be fine and would adjust quickly, so as soon as I got home from work, I forced myself to sit down and add words, write blog posts, tweet, and post content on Pinterest. I wanted to grow my audience. I wanted to gain a following and get to know future readers. I wanted to be consistent and push myself to do more every day.
And it was great! My Pinterest was thriving, Twitter became an awesome community for me, my blog was gaining views, and I was making progress on Awaken.
But very quickly, things started to go downhill. Adjusting to two kids at work became more difficult than I thought it would be. Page views and follower counts began dropping, as they do. It's normal to lose followers, but for some reason every time I did it felt like a punch to the gut. I found it almost compulsive to check my blog stats and page views. I craved likes and retweets on Twitter and felt like a failure if I didn't get them. It got to the point that I wouldn't come home from work and write--I would come home from work and watch my stats. It was insanely unhealthy!
And unfortunately, I'm not the only one who has struggled with this issue. So many writers strive to be perfect in everything they do, and when they don't achieve perfection, it kills them.

Perfection kills your dreams. It kills your writing, and it kills your mind.

I finally realized how unhealthy my habits were becoming and decided to cut myself off for a week. I stepped back from everything, turned off my notifications, and caught myself every time my finger would instinctively try to tap the Twitter or Pinterest app.
I would love to say that I had an incredible week of relaxation and writing and reading and painting and all that good stuff, but in reality, I was so busy. I didn't touch Awaken at all last week.
And yet, that's okay. Because if there is one thing I learned from taking that break, it's that I need to stop striving for perfection.
It doesn't matter how many followers you have or how big your author platform is or how fast you can write your book. It doesn't matter if you are perfect in everything you do.
What matters is that you do what you love because you love it. Write because you love it. Tweet because you love the writing community and want to connect with people. Blog because you love sharing tips and stories with other writers.
As I neared the end of my break, I took a look at my blog. I originally called it "Dreams and Dandelions" three years ago because it fit with my current project at the time. I liked it.
As time has passed and this blog has grown, I've wrestled with the idea of changing the name. I've thought about buying my own domain. I've thought about making big changes.
But, for a long time I didn't because I felt that people wouldn't like it. I felt that I wasn't established enough as an author. I felt that I needed to push myself to be better and that if I were to achieve perfection, everyone would believe in me and my writing and then it would be okay to make all those big changes.
But I don't feel that way anymore. I know now that perfection shouldn't be my goal. Believing in myself should be my goal. Writing because it's my passion should be my goal. Tweeting and pinning to grow with the writing community should be my goal.
And so, I officially made the changes to my blog that I've been wanting to make. I allowed myself to change the name and the layout, and if you haven't noticed, I have a brand new domain! And as soon as I let myself do all of this, I felt so free.

Perfection is a lie.

It is unattainable. It is a charade that will ultimately tear you down. It is something that writers need to push out of their minds no matter how hard that may be.
Don't push yourself to be perfect, push yourself to be the best you can be. Yes, I know that's cheesy--but sometimes it's good to hear cheesy things!
I am so grateful for the writing community, all of my writing friends, and all of my supporters. You all mean so much to me and I probably would have given up on writing a long time ago without all of you. I'm super excited with the direction Miranda Writes is heading. Writing is such an incredible journey and I love being able to share mine with all of you!
I hope this post will encourage you to stop trying to be that perfect author we all dream of being and instead be the best author you can be. And most importantly, never stop writing!

Comments

  1. Perfection is a lie. That's so true. And isn't that kind of the theme of Unperfected? Just going by the title and what you've posted about it... maybe this is part of the reason you got so stuck writing it? I've certainly revisited old pieces of my own and realized that I didn't even understand the theme I was trying to convey. Learning from our own stories, as it is...if that makes any sense. :-P Anyway, best of luck with your writing endeavors, and I'm glad you feel much more at peace now!

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    1. Haha I was actually thinking the same thing while I was writing this post! Thank you so much :)

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  2. Glad I read this, Miranda! I've admittedly been struggling too, even though I am so close to finishing my revision on my novel. But because of other commitments like finishing my equivalent of GSCE's and other stuff, it's been hard to find time or even the right moment to write or have good ideas to post on social media. And having perfectionist traits too....

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    1. I totally understand. I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

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