A few minutes ago I was editing the audio for my podcast Darken the Page. I was spending more time on it than I planned, making tiny changes that no one else would notice, and judging myself.
“I’m such a perfectionist”, I thought.
Then I noticed something interesting. I enjoy making these little edits. I love the fact that everything I publish, whether it’s a podcast, article, song, etc… is something I take a lot of pride in it. As I thought more about this, I realized there is one big factor that drives me to create, and it’s a desire many people (including myself) try to avoid feeling.
The desire for perfection.
I love the feeling of something being “perfect”. I would walk to the ends of the creative earth over hot coals for this. The chance at perfection. It’s the reason I’m an artist. I’m here to capture those ineffable moments of magic.
Before we go on I’d like to address the subjectivity of the word “perfection”. Certainly one could argue that nothing can ever be perfect, and we could also argue that everything is already perfect. That’s not the kind of perfect I’m talking about.
I’m talking about a feeling. It’s that moment when something clicks and you know you’ve struck creative gold. It’s when something is so good every cell in your body is a “yes”.
That’s what I mean when I use the word perfect.
When Happens When I Settle
The fastest way for me to lose enthusiasm for a creative project is to not give it my best. When I don’t give it my best, all the time spent working on the project was for nothing, and even when it’s for money, I still don’t have a good feeling about it. When I give something my best, it gives me energy, and makes me excited to start again.
This is even true for things like doing the dishes. The times when I get the most satisfaction are when I slow down and thoroughly clean all the dishes, wipe the counters and clean the sink. When I take pride in something, no matter how menial the task, it makes me happy.
When a task is enjoyable, I do more of it, and my output increases. By that logic, could perfectionism actually be increasing my creative output?
Maybe… just maybe, my perfectionism is making me happier.