Perfectionism Kills Creativity

Perfectionism Kills Creativity

Perfectionism kills creativity. An artist and Facebook friend posted a rant late last year. She was tired of all the rules – how bloggers, marketers and teachers get hold of something free-form and suddenly rules appear. Suddenly you have to have all the right supplies, follow all the right steps, dot all your “i”s (in the art field, usually with little hearts or skulls), or you aren’t really journaling, making an altered book, embroidering – take your pick. All of the crafts are susceptible to this. With permission, I’ll post the entire rant and a link to her Etsy shop at the bottom of this post, because it’s worth reading and thinking about.

Inspiration and Learning are Great Tools

It’s fine to be inspired by things you see. It’s fun and great and wonderful to learn new techniques and about new materials. But PLEASE don’t cut yourself down if your project is different from the examples! If you are just starting with a technique, I can guarantee that your painting or stitching, or drawing won’t be the same as the teacher’s. This is a good thing. Really.

When you take the ideas home and play with them, they become part of your style, not just a copy. You may find you can later replicate the original project – but please let yourself discover cool things from your “mistakes.”

How Mistakes Help

Allowing yourself to approach things as a beginner gives you a mental advantage. Coming to your work with a “beginner’s mind” full of curiosity and enthusiasm helps you learn and integrate new skills.

That “badly tensioned” french knot? That may have just the texture you need for wildflowers in your next project. That mixed up veil swoosh in your dance? It may be beautiful and not only become your signature move, but find it’s way into your teacher’s list of “moves to teach.” (Don’t laugh – Aneena, one of the big name belly dance instructors has done just that – and named the move after her student!)

Just stop Perfectionism

So stop worrying. Stop obsessing over perfection. Perfectionism is your mind’s way of procrastinating. They say “perfect is the enemy of the good,” and there’s truth to it. It’s one thing to try to improve, another altogether to become paralCatSketchesyzed because what you do isn’t as perfect as if it were made by a machine.

Years ago I read an article that compared our lives to building a piano. When you build a piano, every measurement, every join has to be perfect or you will get noise, not music. But most things in life aren’t pianos. If you misspell January in your planner, the world won’t end. If your altered book doesn’t look like Rembrandt himself did the paintings, the world won’t end (and I’d argue that the world needs YOUR voice more than repeated, copied Rembrandt’s!).

Elizabeth’s Rant can be found on her Facebook page. It was public, so you should be able to read it. If you have problems, let me know in the comments and I’ll put it on it’s own page here, because it’s worth reading! Her Etsy shop is here. I love her artistic creations!

What have you let perfection stop in your life? Can you release your strangle hold a little and try it with curiosity rather than fear? Tell us about it in the comments!

4 Responses to Perfectionism Kills Creativity

  1. Some of this starts with the teachers. When my son was young, I signed him up for a painting class with someone who turned out to not be the best teacher for young kids. She actually got into an argument with my son about the color blue that he wanted to use. She actually told him he was wrong. How can he be “wrong” about how he wanted to paint his picture? He never went back to that place.

    • I think you’re right, Jennifer. And if your child tends towards wanting things “perfect” from the start, just one comment like that can derail a passion (I’m THAT kid… I felt I needed to do everything perfectly the first time or I wasn’t good enough. It’s only taken 50 years to get over that!) Your son had a good parent. Not sending him back to that place was the right decision. I hope he found a more encouraging teacher!

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