On Being a Perfectionist

It’s rough being a perfectionist in an imperfect world. It’s a wonder we can make it through the day.

Man Using Laptop


In a perfectionist’s world, every driver would operate their car exactly the way I want them to. (Ooops, ended a sentence with a preposition. Oh my!)
I missed a comma or put one where it doesn’t belong? Whatever made me think I could write?I cringe when a critique partner finds a sentence splice. Or spots a sentence dangling its participle for the entire world to see.

My hero has blue eyes on page 3 and green eyes on page 150. It’s a historical novel so I can’t use the contact lens excuse.

When I first started writing, I froze at the thought of submitting my work to a critique group. The Apprentice course at Christian Writers Guild had me more jittery than a gallon of coffee. And I was paying for them to criticize me!


And we all know the deadly side effect of perfectionism—procrastination. At times, this means I won’t start because conditions are not ideal.


Frustrated Woman at Computer With Stack of PaperOr I won’t start chapter two because chapter one isn’t perfect. But I don’t touch chapter one because I can’t put my finger on what’s wrong with it.

Or I won’t submit my manuscript until it’s perfect. Well, it’s never perfect enough. So it dies the slow death of constant tinkering.

I know of writers—writers with talent—who left critique groups because of criticism. They took the criticism to mean their writing wasn’t perfect. Therefore, they weren’t perfect.
Although, I still think other drivers should operate the way I want them to.Now, through taking risks, I know perfection is unattainable in this world. Especially in my writing. And that is okay. Perfection comes when I get to heaven.

Do you struggle with perfectionism? How do you overcome it?


2 Responses to On Being a Perfectionist

  1. J.A. Marx May 1, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    i dOn’t kno what you meen by perfectionism in righting, Henre?
    But seriously, I’m laughing because of how much I can relate to this post. I’m a MAJOR PERFECTIONIST. I’d say raising children really sandpapered my rough edges the most. I’ve had to learn how to not sweat over certain things to keep from going insane trying to perfect EVERYTHING. Hope that maid cents.

  2. Henry May 5, 2013 at 4:01 am #

    Thanks for the chuckle, Julie. It’s amazing how our kids shine a spotlight on our perfectionism.

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