The need for every manuscript, every story, every post on social media to be perfect- made me fail repeatedly.Simone Elise
I have written 76 stories. No. I should rephase that. I’ve STARTED 76 stories, perhaps more with sequels drafted. Now to most writers, unfinished stories aren’t anything new. We all have manuscripts left in difficult places.
But it wasn’t till last week, that I realized what my problem was. To my own surprise it wasn’t a ‘lack of ideas’ that stopped these stories turning into published novels.
After all, if there was ONE thing I could count on. It was my ideas always flow. No I am not immune to writers block. However I always have one or more (not going to lie) stories outlined or drafted ready to start. So to sum it up, my problem isn’t a lack of ideas. No, my problem was much deeper than that and scary.
Perfection. We all are familiar with the term. However, it was not till last week, that I admitted I am a Perfectionist. The wide opening moment hit me when I pushed play on a podcast by Sam Laura Brown, the show is called The Perfectionism Project and IT CHANGED MY LIFE.
I literally felt my eyes open wide, as I listened to Sam talk about perfectionism. She was basically describing ME! That day, I consumed about seven of her podcasts. The next day another seven and the day after that another four. Everything she was saying, was relating to me. But what made it even more of an AWE moment; is her strategies.
I realized that the reason I have SO MANY (76 might I remind you) unfinished stories, was because of Perfection! I had this mindset that each book, had to be 100% perfect. I’m not talking about the editing, and cover because I outsource that. I’m talking about the plot points, the ARC of the Story, the beats within each chapter, the romance scenes, the emotional beats and the overall story had to be 100% perfect.
It was a light blub moment when I realized that the one thing holding me back, wasn’t a lack of ideas, it was my own MINDSET. It was the fact I am wired as a perfectionist and the fear of possible failure holding me back.
After realizing this. I grabbed my MAC, a cup of tea and took one scary step to overcoming my perfectionist need to control everything and for everything to be 100% perfect. Now just to give you some insight, I have many basically complete manuscripts on my hard drive. But I had a certain three edited and sitting there; but in my eyes, they weren’t 100% perfect. Thus, I never hit publish. But that was changing on Sunday afternoon on 17th of May 2020.
Fearless was a short standalone novel and as my husband says, not all my work will be my best; sometimes you have to write the bad, to make way for better stories. (note he isn’t a writer, he just knows me too well)
I formatted Fearless that day, and this was how insane it was; I already had the cover ready for Amazon! The ONLY thing stopping me from publishing it, was my mindset! I knew it wasn’t going to be a best seller and I will admit it wasn’t my best work. (Perhaps my perfectionist mouth is talking there…) Regardless this story had nearly one million online reads on Wattpad and it was edited, sitting on my desktop.
So sitting in from of my MAC, which I only use for formatting. I took one massive step towards overcoming my perfectionist blood. With the formatting program called Vellum, all the hard work was done for me. Within twenty minutes, I was happy with the layout and style. I listened to Sam the whole time, as I took massive imperfect action.
Sending the formatted file to my laptop. I switched computers and logged on to KDP. I’ve been self publishing now for nearly a year. But this was the first story I was publishing with those two magic words, the end.
If you haven’t read my work, or followed me and this is the first thing you read related to me. You will not be aware that I start A LOT of stories, series and not finish them. I love cliff hangers and about 99.9% of my books have them.
But not this one.
As I filled out the publishing details, nerves crept through me. One thought was one repeat in my head, ‘what if this fails massively’. I was waiting for the formatted file to upload when I nearly exited the page, now being in a panic. Just as I was about to crawl back into my perfect shell and end the experiment, Sam was still on and talking about Fixed and Growth Mindset.
I listened as she explained that people who come from a Growth Mindset, doesn’t see something as a failure, they see it as a lesson. Slowly as her words sink in, I thought to myself. I do not want to be in a fixed mindset. I want to be in a growth one. So I continued (scared) filling out the publishing details. Listing the price, and enrolling it into Kindle Unlimited.
Then I do it, the big moment, I hit publish. Now I’m damn well sure, I went into shock when the congratulations window popped up and stating it was in review.
I was expecting nerves to overpower me immediately. But that didn’t happen. Nope. I pushed myself a bit further. I went on to upload the ending to, TWO other series, with one pending an ending since 2018 (Loving Lucian) and the other early 2019 (Cage’s Downfall).
I was taking imperfect action. I was letting go of the perfectionist need to control and TAKING ACTION.
I am under no belief that a day will come where I have my need for perfection under control. BUT, the days of letting it control my writing, are over.After going on and publishing the ending for Cage’s Downfall, Loving Lucian and the standalone novel Fearless. I went on to release my first self published paper backs.
The next thing I did? I started my Blog. This Blog, that you are reading now. I am leaning into the uncomfortable and as I have typed this post six times. I know my strong perfectionist needs, are not going to be overcome easily. But I will, and I say this with full belief, that from now I will be taking more imperfect action.