Aug 302012
 

When I was in high school, I often declared myself a perfectionist. I was young and ignorant, not realizing that the perfectionism I was so proud of was limiting my creativity. Instead I wore it as a sign of my exacting high standards and goals for myself.

Then I had kids. Children will either convince one to give up perfectionism (for the most part) or perfectionism will make parenting a living h-e-double-hockey-sticks. Shortly after I had my second daughter and became outnumbered at home during the day, I discovered FlyLady. She was the first to help me realize how destructive my perfectionism was to my happiness and home and family life.

I started realizing that there is such a thing as “good enough.” I learned about a concept called “point of diminishing returns.” (See this Lifehacker article for good points made about when “good enough” is good enough and when striving for perfection is worth it.)

There is a great article on LIVESTRONG.COM titled “Overcoming Perfectionism.” There are many facets to perfectionism. Some of those on the list in the article applied to me. For example, for me, perfectionism was:

  • “a habit developed from youth that keeps you constantly alert to the imperfections, failings, and weakness in yourself and others”
and
  • “an inhibiting factor that keeps you from making a commitment to change habitual, unproductive behavior out of fear of not making the change ‘good enough'”

as well as

  • “a reason why you may be fearful of success, i.e., if I achieve my goal, will I be able to continue, maintain that level of achievement”

Proof I’m Still a Perfectionist

I was so excited when I was first building this blog. The ideas poured forth in waves I couldn’t write down fast enough. I thought of everything it could be: a place to express thoughts and invite discussion, a place to document my efforts at balancing the various important aspects of life while still reading and writing the words I love, a place to use those words to define myself and my life’s goals, and a place to find and encourage others like me so we can support each other.

I posted my first two, shiny new posts and then–I froze up. Paralyzed by all of the bigger better blogs around me and thoughts that my blog would never be “good enough” for readers of those blogs. Overwhelmed by all of the blogging Dos and Don’ts on professional blogging sites. Insecure with the realization that posting my reviews on LDS Women’s Book Review is very different than the more personal posts that would appear on this blog.

What if what I wrote wasn’t awful and people actually visited the blog and read my posts and what if I messed up? What if I said something wrong or sounded dumb/naive/stupid/ignorant/dumb?

I recently recognized those thoughts for what they really were–my perfectionism rearing its ugly head. I started to feel inspired again. I wanted to break free from that restrictive, doubt-filled paralysis of perfectionism I had succumbed to once more.

Moving Past Perfectionism

There is a list of suggestions for overcoming perfectionism in that article from LIVESTRONG.COM. Here are some that I found helpful:

  • “accept that the ideal is only a guideline or goal to be worked toward, not to be achieved 100 percent”
  • “recognize that one’s backsliding does not mean the end of the world; it is OK to pick oneself up and start all over again”
  • “learn to accept yourself the way you are; let go of the ideas of how you should be”
  • “have support people who role model forgiving and forgetting when mistakes, failures, offenses or backsliding occur”

Luckily my husband is a supportive guy. He suffers from his own version of perfectionism, so we can help each other out.

I’ve also received a lot of encouragement from good author friends, both published and not, who have helped me get back in the saddle of writing again. I have yet to hit 10,000 words in my first ever official work-in-progress, but thanks to them that goal feels more attainable than ever before.

Having a good support system might be the most important thing on that list. After listening to voices in my head all day (both mine and those of my characters) I become a little deaf internally. Sometimes, hearing those external voices encouraging me to “Keep writing! Don’t give up!” and “You can do this–you really can!” is just what I need to keep my fingertips moving on the keyboard.

Are you a perfectionist? If so, how do you deal with perfectionism? Who inspires you to keep working toward your goals?

 

STUDY

 WORDS  Tagged with: ,
May 032012
 

I have been waiting for this day for 365-ish days.

Today is the first day (technically) of the annual LDStorymakers Conference. I’m sitting outside of the ballroom at the Provo Marriott listening to the murmur of many dozens of voices as hard-working authors bare their souls and share their written words with a table full of fellow Bootcampers. I can feel the room buzzing with potential and I’m not even in it.

It’s not an easy thing to subject one’s hard-fought, word-filled art to dissection by others, even if the story is ultimately better for it. But that’s why everyone is here.

To STUDY their craft. To ENDEAVOR, or make an effort, to improve their writing.

This is my third LDStorymakers Conference. I missed the first five or so. I will ENDEAVOR to never miss another if I can help it. I’ve heard several people in the industry call this the best writing conference out there. I believe them.

For me, LDStorymakers Conference isn’t just about improving my writing ability. It’s about the friendship. These people are MY people. Every year for two or three days I have 500+ automatic friends. And I don’t mean on Facebook. 🙂

This is seriously the most fun I’ve ever had STUDYing. Funner than Christmas. Definitely funner than my birthday. (Sorry, honey.)

Come join us!

 

 

Apr 132012
 

I find the irony of launching my WORDS blog with a NUMBER highly amusing. I don’t know why it delights me so, but it does.

THIRTY-FIVE.

That is how old I am today. It’s my first day on the 35 job. I’m not sure what to expect but portents abound.

For most of my adult life, 35 has loomed ahead as one of those benchmark ages of life. Like 16 or 21, but not so party-ish. Or 50 or 75, but not as…old-ish. Honestly, I have not been looking forward to being 35 years old. It’s a bit like I imagine a mid-life crisis might feel. After all, if I’m blessed to live to 70, the timing is right.

I had a few goals to accomplish before now:

  • Be done having children.

Check.

  • Be healthy, fit, and slender.

Um, hm. We’ll call that one “in progress.”

  • Have an organized house and perfectly landscaped yards.

Ha ha ha ha ha – right.

I’m the oldest of my siblings so I remember when my parents turned 35 and how far away that seemed. Now I’m here, my oldest child turning 15 this fall and my youngest a newly-turned 3 year old that is officially potty-trained.

Sometimes I feel like I live a double life. When my older children are at school and it’s just me and the two little ones, I can fool myself into thinking I’m still in my early twenties with babies at home. Then my teen and preteen come home and reality smacks me in the face.

Time is flying by.

No one can stop it or even slow it down. And while we can’t (or shouldn’t) live in the past, we can travel through time to visit on occasion.

Write everything down.

Take a lot of pictures.

Find a few minutes in every day to breathe and savor existence.

Little drops of water, little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean, and the pleasant land.
So the little minutes, humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages of eternity.

–JULIA CARNEY, Little Things

Looking back, there is very little I would change in the last 35 years. Both good and bad define us, and I wouldn’t want to be anyone else but me. While certain aspects of my life are over (childbearing, for example) I still have much to look forward to (grandchildren, for example). My hubby and I occasionally catch ourselves counting down to an empty nest, but we’re in no hurry even if the kids are in a rush to grow up.

My birthday wish for today: make a point to document those humble yet mighty moments that otherwise might have slipped away unnoticed. One day, you’ll be glad you did.

Do you have a “dreaded” age? How has your perspective of age changed?

 

Some Fun Stuff

Wikipedia has a page full of math facts for the number 35. If you are a number nerd (or not), go check it out.

The number 35 is a tetrahedral number. Uh… a what? Yeah, I didn’t know, either. Thank you, Wikipedia, for the birthday math lesson.

My favorite journaling app: Day One *

My favorite photography app: Instagram *

*No affiliation. I just really like them.

Here are a few of my favorite things that involve the number 35:

  • M35 is an open cluster of stars. Astronomy is my lesser known passion. My original plan was to become an astrophysicist, but then I met my husband and chose to become a wife and mother instead. I wouldn’t change a thing. There is a nice photo of M35 on apod.nasa.gov.
  • There are 35 finalists in the Whitney Awards this year. I have found some new and unexpected favorites. See who the finalists are and learn more about the Whitney Awards.
  • 35mm film. I can’t remember a time that I didn’t love taking pictures.While it’s been years since I used 35mm film, my memories of hours in the dark room developing pictures in are good ones. I can still smell the chemicals and hear the awesome 60s music my photography teacher would turn up full blast while we worked. (“Nights in White Satin” anyone?)

I love reading YOUR words so please comment below. Thanks!