Unfortunately, my obsession for “good” writing escalated to an impossible level: I refused to publish anything unless it was perfect. Consequently, I didn’t publish anything at all for nearly a month. I realize now that unless I lower the bar, I’ll never publish anything again — because nothing I write will ever be perfect.
I’m reminded of the time in high school when I tried to write a novel. In the first chapter, the two main characters were set in a hotel. I used conversations with the hotel receptionist and the bellhop to illustrate their personalities. The chapter accomplished exactly what it needed to: It showed that the Gentleman was a man of power who felt he was better than everyone else, and that the Woman was silent and mysterious. The chapter was finished.
But it wasn’t perfect. So instead of starting the second chapter, I revised the first. Even with the revisions, it still wasn’t perfect. The next time I went to write, I chose to revise the first chapter again instead of start the second. In fact, every time I went to write, I chose to revise the first chapter — and as a result, I never finished the book.
The same thing is now happening with my blog:
I wrote an article about my first official piano lesson from an instructor. Afraid that someone might think “Who cares?,” I didn’t publish it.
I wrote an article about how to paint laminate furniture. Afraid that someone would think “This is off-topic,” I didn’t publish it.
I wrote an article about Thanksgiving 2007, the first Thanksgiving Holiday I spent with my girlfriend’s family. Afraid that it might offend some of her family members, I didn’t publish it.
I wrote an article about dealing with relationship issues. Afraid that it was too personal, I didn’t publish it.
I wrote an article about how I want my first Christmas with Cassie to be special. Afraid that it might be viewed as politically incorrect, I didn’t publish it.
When I started this blog in February ’07, it was considerably easier to write in it. I didn’t think anyone was listening, so it didn’t necessarily matter what I wrote. Over time, however, LifeReboot gained an audience of over 1000 subscribing readers.
This means that every time I publish something, it’s like sending a mass email message to 1000 strangers — and that’s intimidating. I don’t want to bother them unless I have something meaningful to share. I don’t want to bother them unless I have something insightful to say. I don’t want to bother them unless I’ve written something perfect.
Writing perfectly was never part of my master plan for this blog. My aim was to write consistent, original, quality content. Somewhere down the road I started obsessing over the quality of my content and psyched myself out to the point where I was no longer consistent. As a result, someone left a comment that finally caused me to wake up:
well, after almost a month with no new posts, i’m forced to unsubscribe. it’s a shame – this blog had a lot of potential.
Someone lost faith in me. They were patient for a while, but finally gave up. Maybe they thought that I gave up too.
I haven’t given up on LifeReboot. I will, however, give up on perfection.
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