Creative Perfectionism Is A Killer Disease: Here's The Miracle Cure

Dan Goodwin

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What is the one single thing that more than anything else stops us from creating?

The disease that kills creative projects dead, saps creative energy like a swamp full of starving leeches and can destroy a previously healthy and productive creative artist in hardly any time at all?

The answer is Creative Perfectionism, the quest for creative perfection.

So what do we mean by Creative Perfectionism?

Put simply, Creative Perfectionism is when we have already reached a very competent and perfectly acceptable stage with a creative project, but we’re still unhappy with it.

More than that, we become obsessed with finding the last tiny details that will make it “perfect". So obsessed that we actually lose perspective, lose objectivity and become incapable of seeing actually how wonderful and how accomplished the creative work already is.

In searching frantically for that last 3% that we believe will make the work perfect, we become blind to the beautiful 97% that we’ve already accomplished and is already there.

But what’s at the heart of this behaviour?

It can be a number of different factors. We can find ourselves seeking Creative Perfectionism out of fear of not being taken seriously, fear of being seen as lazy or not passionate, fear that this is the only great idea we’ll ever have, fear that if we don’t finish this piece we’ll never finish anything in the future, and a whole host of others.

No doubt you can add your own versions and favourites to this list.

So what’s the cure? Is there any hope once we get this creativity killing disease?

Well, thankfully yes there is hope.

The cure is all about re-learning to let go when our creative work is “good enough".

Now this doesn’t mean that we make any less effort in our creative projects or that we care less about them.

In fact the opposite is true - we actually care more

We care enough to want to finish the piece and let it go. We care enough to release it into the world where it can find an audience and inspire, delight and move other people. And we care enough to honour our ever evolving creativity and move on to the next creative project.

Over a fixed period of time, wouldn’t you rather have 3 wonderful pieces of creative art out in the world that people can admire and connect with, than one so-close-but-not-quite-perfect-enough-to-let-go-of-yet piece sitting in your room or in your studio or on your computer where no-one else can experience it?

Here’s the prescription for your medication

A great way to re-learn how to let go of our work is to produce some work as quickly as possible, and to lower the level at which we happily let it go.

As an exercise, make a deal with yourself that the next three creative projects you work on you’ll spend no more than 3 hours on. And, at that point, once the time is up, you’ll stop work and let it go, whatever stage it’s at.

Scary, huh? But we both know you can do it.

The outcome is not so important, it’s the process, and the letting go that’s important

Do this as often as you can, even if you spend more time in between on other creative projects. The object of the exercise is to make it easier to let the creative work go, and as a side effect of course it will increase your productivity.

Review after a few weeks or so and see how your ideas around Creative Perfectionism have changed.

You may find you still want to spend longer on larger projects, and continue to produce some quicker work in between. Or you may find that you’re able to produce these larger projects to a wonderful standard in much less time than ever before.

Either way, there’s so much to be learnt if you’re willing to try. So put that cure into action today and stop letting Creative Perfectionism kill YOUR creativity.

© Copyright 2007 Dan Goodwin

Learn how to Explode YOUR Creativity today. . . Get your FREE copy of Creativity Coach Dan Goodwin’s powerful and practical “Explode Your Creativity!" Action Workbook when you sign up to the FREE “Create Create!" ezine. Visit the website now:


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