Perfectionism is an all-or-nothing attitude; and ruled by it, you will nearly always end up with nothing.
-Mundis, Jerrold (2011-09-14). Break Writer’s Block Now!: How to Demolish It Forever and Establish a Productive Working Schedule in One Afternoon (Kindle Locations 346-347). Wolf River Press. Kindle Edition.
You might wonder why I use this quote for the Twelve Days of Christmas. I think it ties in nicely with this time of year.
Perfectionism ruins Christmas preparation for many people. Just take a look at the women’s magazines displayed at the market check-out! It also taints giving and receiving Christmas presents. In year’s past, I worried about giving the perfect gifts. And I’ve been really
saddened annoyed when recipients verbally or physically rejected my gifts. (NOTE: It’s difficult to ruin El Día de los Reyes Magos. Who expects the “perfect” gift to fit in a shoe?)
Perfection also weighs heavily on making New Year’s resolutions. (Pun intended.) There’s a lot of optimism in the making, but disappointment and guilt in the breaking. Several years ago, friends came up with a great New Year’s Eve tradition: The Unresolution. I recall Michele the Fashionista started us off with “This year I’m giving up trying to like jazz” – a funny and honest declaration.
Yesterday I used Break Writer’s Block Now! to do a DIY Artist’s Retreat. Last weekend I’d read the introduction, in which Mr. Mundis spelled out the prerequisites: an afternoon in a comfortable place free of distractions. I decided to wait. After all, I’m so busy this week.** Maybe I’d do it this coming weekend – if I cleaned house perfectly, set up for the workweek perfectly… Yes, I could feel perfectionism settling on me!
Most likely I’d have forgotten about the book for months.
Luckily, Nature in all its bounty gave me an afternoon stuck inside. It didn’t rain or snow. It dropped ice pellets, which formed a treacherous (yet pretty) glaze outside both exits from this House of Nonsense.
Of course, I resisted. By moving furniture. That lasted only until I needed to elevate my leg (per doctor’s orders). So then I thought I might as well do it – even though it would be better if had nothing else on my mind, more energy, a cleaner workspace – you know, the perfect circumstances!
**Coincidentally, “I’m too busy” is one of the top reasons that writer’s feel “blocked”.