Perfectionists Prison: Do Not Press Go
As I sit in my chair, still chewing on my pen cap while staring across pen marked index cards and loose leaf paper, I ponder the 20+ rough drafts worth of material that I would like to share with the world. I can tell you the history of each little scribble with the same enthusiasm and vividness as a man with battle scars who, living vicariously though his favorite memories of yesteryear, smiles proudly while rattling off the number of stitches received, surgeries survived, and other key pieces of minutia. Yes, these ideas are like precious children to me. They started their lives as flickering flashes of inspiration, caught simply by careful observation and awareness in otherwise ordinary moments. This begins the panicked phase 2: a mad dash to find a clipboard and capture these ideas before (and this always happens) the narrative in my head gets marred by too many self-edits and other thoughts trying to compete for my mental RAM.
What is left is a beautifully gurgling child of an idea. Smiling and so beautifully happy, but not able to walk on its own two feet yet and go out and meet the world. Now it needs growth and development, taking it from its nascent stages and transforming it to, for lack of a better metaphor, "its full potential"TM. This is where I become a deadbeat dad. Paralyzed without knowing how to raise this idea perfectly, I run away and neglect it. I even refuse to pay idea support. And so my relationship with this idea turns sour and I feel guilty for even writing it down if I never intended to stick it out to the end. Oh what a tragedy, my children of ideas turned latch key'd and into recycle bins for those who can provide them a better future.
It's another case of Perfectionists Prison: Do Not Press Go. Do not press publish. Do not enjoy your accomplishments. Do not give yourself credit for your current abilities as a writer, teacher, or simply a human being with his own perspective. Do not share with the world until every tweet or prose is pullitzer prize winning perfect. Do not put expose any idea out to the world that you couldn't, on judgement day, defend yourself to a jury of your peers (or enemies).
Life Without Parole
I know I could always revisit an idea several years later, but there is a fear of 'spoiling it.' The irrational fear goes like this: if I write 2 paragraphs about it now and it's so-so, It's not original when I want to put together an full length article or book chapter. Silly? Yes, but that is how the lizard brain (to quote Seth Godin) prevents us from shipping our art and sharing with the world. And so the ideas sit in perfectionists prison... life without parole.
The Need to Ship/Send/Publish/DO/GO
The opposite of prison is freedom. And freedom can only be achieved when we are willing to let go of our incessant need to control the outcome. Our ideas may never be perfect, but neither are we! And if we already allow ourselves to go out and experience the world, so should our ideas escape the confining bars and cells within our hearts, minds, and pieces of paper. Ship it. Send it. Publish it. Do something. And for heaven's sakes... just GO already!
*PS. Anyone find it interesting that the 'Do Not Pass Go' card from Monopoly has the word 'chance' on it?
About Rick Manelius
I'm a Drupal Ninja (brown belt), an aspiring author, a personal development fanatic, and an overall explorer of life. I own SoundPost Media, LLC— a Drupal agency that works with small to medium sized media compaies looking to improve their presence on the web. Stick around by subscribing to my feed, following me, or simply leaving a comment below. I appreciate you stopping by!