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The Twin Demons of Perfectionism and Procrastination

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

 I'm being stalked by the demons of perfectionism and procrastination. I knew something was wrong when I couldn't quite move forward with my next ideas for writing projects. My mind kept repeating the phrase, "Not good enough."

I found some answers in a number of places this past week and wanted to share them with you in case you're being stalked by similar serpents of Perfectionism and Procrastination.

The first place I was led for help was when I looked up James Scott Bell's weekly Sunday post at the Kill Zone. Ten Ways to Sabotage Your Writing,

I also tuned in to Charles Stanley this week and God answered with the sermon on Solving Problems Through Prayer. I had caught myself trying to solve my problem through my personal abilities. Always a mistake for me. Start with prayer, seek wise counsel, and move forward. I am a person of deep, personal faith and still after all these years I can be duped by The Serpent. The big one. But that's all it takes is recognition and reminder that the villain of all villains is out there. 1 Peter 5:8 warns us: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour."

 For me, the issue of what do next isn't writers block. It's fear of moving forward. Of making a mistake of choosing the wrong direction that will result in some major error. Here's the comment I wrote in response to Jim Bell's post:

Thought provoking post, Jim. I think somewhere between numbers 6 & 7 resides a region of paralysis, for me anyway. Book three in my series comes out next month. I'm thrilled that I've written three of the best books that I was capable of writing. But now I've found I've entered this limbo region where I'm scared. What comes next? and I'm caught in "what if land?"

What if? is filled with all kind of ridiculous horrors of my writing demise that may be somewhat related to number one on your list, Jim. But it's different. It's not unhappiness, it kind of feels like Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade where he has to get through the obstacle course to get to the Holy Grail and save his father. One wrong step and that's all she wrote so to speak. :)

Any one ever feel like that? I think it's because I don't know what I want to write next and afraid of somehow choosing the wrong path. Don't know if any of this makes sense, but that's my current struggle which could easily turn into self-sabotage and I've got to snap out of it, which probably means I need to write. Maybe for awhile it doesn't matter what it is. 

And then later in response to Elizabeth Poole's statement is how I start to work through it.

 Elizabeth, thanks for the thoughts on perfectionism. I've convinced myself over the years that I'm not a perfectionist. I know how dangerous that can be and yet maybe that's what it really is. I think perfectionism leads to procrastination and those are double demons for our writing and our daily lives. Perhaps it's a matter of letting go and enjoying the process rather than fearing it. This is what I like about these kinds of posts. It gives us opportunity to work through the hard stuff that we might otherwise ignore.

Read the comments section too. You'll find a lot of self-discovery, self-awareness, and plain old good advice.

I felt like I should know better. I chose 2nd Timothy 1:7 as my life verse a long time ago. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." This is the reason I write. Somehow I had drifted away from that knowledge and needed to be reminded.

Have you ever been there? What got you back on track?


  1. Great post, Jillian! I suffer terribly from the disease of procrastination, and I think perfectionism is what keeps me infected!

  2. Hi Patti!
    These twin demons are deadly to writers. I like what you said about perfectionism keeping you infected. It is an infection that is very hard to cure. I hope all of us who struggle with these issues can conquer them in whatever way works best for each of us. Thanks for weighing in.