Blogging and Perfectionism Don’t Mix

Regular readers have probably noticed that I haven’t been writing as much lately. The Daily Bookmarks posts have still been coming, but I haven’t written a real post in a while. In the last two weeks, I’ve only written one real post.

I’ve been trying to figure out what’s going on that I haven’t been writing. Partly it is that I have felt a bit overwhelmed by all the subscriptions I have to read. My Google Reader trends say I’ve read over 9,000 items in the last 30 days–no wonder I feel a bit overwhelmed. (Although “read” perhaps not the most accurate term; many of those were simply scanning headlines.) I’m trying to whittle down my list now. I think Darren Kuropatwa has the right idea: focusing on the posts which educate me the most, not necessarily just what interests me. I don’t think I’ll ever get to the 20 subscriptions he says he is down to now, nor am I sure that I would want to. I read the news through RSS and I have several fun things as well, and I want to keep those. (Yeah for Cute Overload, which makes me smile every day with its redonkulous fluff!)

Besides the fact that I need to find a better balance between my time spent reading and my time spent writing is that I am feeling some old perfectionist tendencies creeping in. I have lots of thoughts bouncing around in my head about a number of topics, but I haven’t posted them here because they are only half formed. I find myself thinking that lots of ideas aren’t ready to write about yet because I’m struggling to make connections or haven’t decided what I really believe about a topic. I do know that people read what I write, and I know that once I put it here it will continue to be available for a very long time. Sometimes I feel like I need to have my ideas completely solidified and perfect before I share them.

I don’t think that’s what I want this blog to be. I know I should start simply writing about some of it and put something down. Many times just the act of writing helps me coalesce my thoughts. I’ve kept handwritten journals sporadically since second grade; I know that I process ideas by writing about them. Learning more is one of my main goals for blogging, and I don’t think I can do that as effectively if I try to wait until my ideas are perfect before I post. This isn’t really the forum for my most polished ideas; it should be a place for me to reflect as I’m going along, in whatever stage those thoughts are. Heck, if Will Richardson can admit that he was “stuck,” I figure I’m entitled to not always know quite what I want to write.

So right now, I guess I’m at the stage where I recognize that my desire to have it “perfect” is getting in the way of writing and sharing and learning. I’m not sure how to get past it yet, but at least I think I’ve identified the reason I’m stuck.

Then again, I could be wrong. That’s OK though.

Has anyone else felt this way? How do you get “unstuck” from a spot like this?

5 thoughts on “Blogging and Perfectionism Don’t Mix

  1. Thanks for mentioning this and your post on AskLizRyan (of which I’m a member). I think trying for perfection is what stops a lot of people from writing, blogging, and even networking. Also, I think we have similar things in common when it comes to what we expected to have accomplished by 30. I’m 33 and I am a newlywed of 9-months still renting. Most of my friends have homes and kids already and are thinking of a 2nd career and I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I’ve been working for my parents as their administrative/IT manager for their small business in financial services and tax preparation. In addition I recently started to consult for nonprofits in project management and marketing/pr. I always seem to be inside my own head instead of being in the moment and enjoying the glass half full side of life.

  2. Karlene, it sounds like you and I are at very similar places in our lives, although I’m happy with my career right now. My husband hasn’t quite figured out what he wants to be when he grows up though, so I do understand that too. I happened to find the right field, and I consider myself fortunate for that. It sounds like you have interests and abilities in many different areas, and that does make it harder to choose a career.

    It’s probably been recommended to you before, but I really like the “What Color is Your Parachute?” book. I went through the self-tests when I was unhappy at a previous job and trying to figure out what I was really looking for in a work environment. It helped me focus on what was important to me.

    I once heard a woman refer to the “chattering monkeys” in her head. That image has stuck with me; it seems like those chattering monkeys are keeping me from doing as much writing on here as I would like.

    Thanks for commenting; it’s nice just to know that someone else understands and has the same kinds of feelings. Good luck finding a career that makes you really happy!

  3. Christy – This is your little sister reminding you that you do not have to be an ARSP when blogging. 🙂

  4. I’m right there with you Christy!

    I know I should slim down my subscriptions as well (oh, what a dream, just to have 20!) but there is so much I want to read. How can I cut myself off?

    And then there’s the perfectionist problem. I’m totally type-A, and I just hate posting if I don’t think it’s perfect. Given the fact that my posts are never perfect, I think I’m getting better, but it’s still hard.

    One of the things that has helped for me is to maintain a personal blog. I don’t feel any pressure to say anything interesting at all there, and it’s very freeing! Especially considering that I have many more readers on my personal blog than I do on my professional one (go figure). I guess when I don’t feel the pressure to be perfect, I can just let go a little bit…

  5. Hi Kim,

    I’m not really sure quite how to go about cutting the subscriptions down either. I did one pass through my list and cut a few things, but not enough. Tony Karrer had a good idea on one of his old posts. When he starts a new subscription, he puts it on “probation” temporarily. He keeps new subscriptions in separate folders (by month, I believe) until he’s had them for a month. As he reads them, he flags anything interesting or useful. If after a month he doesn’t have anything flagged, he unsubscribes. I’m trying out a “maybe” folder myself, which isn’t quite as systematic as Tony’s method. I’m hoping it will help somewhat though.

    The idea of the pressure-less personal blog is very interesting. I can see how that would be easier to let go than a professional one. Do you feel like your personal blog is more of a stress relief outlet for you? On your professional blog, do you feel like it is more “work” or more of an obligation?

    I’m wondering if part of my issue is that when I feel that “should” be posting, it’s an obligation and increases my stress, instead of being something I just want to write about. Hmmm…

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