Having learnt (only relatively recently) to let go of my perfectionist streak, I recognise it fairly easily in others.  I know all too well that feeling of beating myself up if something isn’t how I think it ‘should’ be.  In my case, the drive for perfectionism still occasionally manifests itself as a bout of crippling procrastination.  Then I have to fool myself into ‘just doing a draft’ or ‘just making some notes’ or if things are really bad, ‘just opening the book’.  Once I’ve actually got something on paper, the gremlins give up without much of a fight.


By-passing perfectionism has been the key for me to get on with writing and painting. For years, I was attached to the outcome.  My painting or story ‘had to’ be perfect.  And so I stopped painting and writing, because it never was perfect.  The moment I learned to just put pen or brush to paper without worrying about how it would turn out, was the moment that I started to enjoy the process.


The creation – be it a painting, piece of writing or whatever – is something that you bring from your unconscious into awareness in the process of creating it.  Artists often say that the work they create seems to have a life of its own and they merely become the channel for the painting. This is what Shaun McNiff in his book Trust the process – an artist’s guide to letting go” describes as ‘giving up ego control.’  He writes, “I can never know in advance what will appear, because I discover what is going on inside me through the process of painting.”


Thinking of a piece of writing, a piece of art or whatever you want to create as ‘just an experiment’ takes all the pressure off you.  The results might surprise you.


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