Writing, Perfectionism, and the Author Who Gave Me Permission to Take Breaks

If you read my post about my experience at the LA Times Festival of Books this past weekend, you know that I went to an awesome panel about writing memoirs. On this panel was author Sandy Allen, who discussed at length what it was like to write their book. Despite my belief prior to the panel that I would exclusively be excited by Michael Ausiello, Sandy definitely changed that for me. When they spoke, I dove head first into their words, eating them up hungrily.

Many things Sandy said stood out to me, but there was one comment in particular that I clung to. They mentioned how, in graduate school, their peers and friends would spend every day writing. Sandy wouldn’t understand, exclaiming “What do you even have to write about?!,” not able to figure out how they came up with content to write every single day. Unlike their peers, Sandy had a different writing method.

Their approach is different than the one I’ve heard over and over about the writing industry; that you must always be writing. Sandy, instead, takes breaks (imagine that!) and writes when there is content to write about. And not all days are spent hunched over a Word document; some days are spent researching or interviewing subjects, and are just as productive as the days spent writing. Hell, some days are for going to the beach and stepping away from your project for a little while.

 

In case you all forgot, or just haven’t been paying attention, I am a perfectionist. I made this a daily blog to help decrease my perfectionistic tendencies, like spending weeks on the same essay, and allowing myself to post even the smallest of posts. However, lately, that has equated to me pushing myself to generate worthy content every day, which isn’t always easy. Not only that, but I fight my perfectionism on what I post. Some days, I think I have to continue to write pieces that will continue to captivate my audience and increase my blog views. Which, of course, goes against why I created this blog in the first place.

So, when I left the Festival of Books this weekend, I came home and reread the “About” page of my blog. Because it’s all about how I created this site for me. Not for the audience, or for a certain number of daily page views. Sandy had reminded me that it is ok to go at my own pace, and take breaks when I need/want them. The blog won’t vanish if I don’t post every day, and people won’t stop reading if every once in a while I post something that isn’t exactly profound.

This post is for me to remember that my worth and my perfectionism do not go hand in hand. In fact, my worth is so far from what my perfectionism tells me, it’s absurd. This is also a reminder to you, that it is perfectly ok to take breaks and not beat yourself up over the small stuff. Stress and pressure will come and go, but you want to make sure you are doing what you are doing for the right reasons. Don’t let the thing you love take your mind for a ride without your permission. Nothing is perfect. Neither are you.

 

*If you are a reader (and even if you aren’t), I encourage you to go pick up a copy of Sandy Allen’s book, “A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise: A True Story About Schizophrenia.” I’m only a few pages deep and I’m hooked. 10/10 would recommend.

2 thoughts on “Writing, Perfectionism, and the Author Who Gave Me Permission to Take Breaks

  1. Laura Beth April 25, 2018 / 11:06 am

    I’m adding the book to my list. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

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