MasterClass day is here again with David Sedaris. This part of his lesson, “Breaking Into A Story”, started out with the curse of needing to be perfect. He talked about how his partner, an amazing artist, goes to a museum only to come home and say that he can’t paint. I don’t know about you but comparing myself to another person is a natural human habit.
I look at other people’s art and writing and think the same thing. All the progress and work that I’ve done to get to this point goes out the window. There’s always someone else who’s going to be “more talented” than you, or that’s what you’ll think.
David went on to say that the need to be perfect makes someone paralyzed. They’re so focused on being perfect that they hinder their own progress because it’s like starting over and over again in the same place. Ask yourself, do you really want to be at the bottom of the hill trying roll that rock up over and over again? Entrepreneurs roll without knowing there’s going to be obstacles and that things won’t be perfect but they keep going. They build the plane as they jump off the cliff.
Writers are the same. We should take the leap into our story and build as we go. The only way to get better is get started. Yes, we will rewrite over and over again but it’s with progress. It’s building our story. Someone consumed with perfection will never take the leap. In quoting him, “if you’re lucky, you’ll learn to be yourself.”
Comparing yourself to others is a symptom of perfectionism because you’re not doing it for yourself. If you were, you wouldn’t feel the need to be perfect in the first place. Writing is about the journey of find yourself, your style, and your voice. That’s what makes your stories unique and the reason you stand out from other writers. Audiences connect to your voice. So don’t try to sound like someone else.
Take some time today for your prompt and listen to your voice. Write down 5-10 things that you put into your stories. What makes you unique? If you can’t write anything down, then that’s a sign that you listen to yourself more often. Develop your voice or style will take time, and it will take writing again and again. Don’t wait. Get started right away and stop being paralyzed by perfection.
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