Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dealing with Perfectionism

I don't know about all of you, but I've lived with an enemy as long as I can remember. It's one of the only things that can take away my confidence, my vision, and my joy.

It's perfectionism.

I have always had this deep-rooted desire to do things well. And not just well, but as well as possible. The problem is, that's im-possible.

So when I found literature and writing, I fell in love, because there was no perfect way to tell or interpret a story. I was suddenly free from my desire to achieve perfection on tests or quizzes.

But over time, I developed this innate sense of am-I-writing-well-enough that tapped into my perfectionism, despite the inherent freedom we find in stories. And I imagine you know the feeling.

I started wondering if my scenes and my plots and my characters were perfect--as if these elements were a checklist rather than a breath-filled story. Because that's the thing about stories. They aren't perfect. And really, there's no way to achieve a "perfect" story.

But I think when we're in the business long enough, we get a sense of what isn't working. And before we know it, we start listening to the isn't more than the is.

I've found that in my own writing, though, the thing is, God wants to create with me. He's not looking for me to find some sort of secret story He has hidden. He wants me to write His stories. There's a huge difference.

It's like when I play with my child. I'm not looking at him, asking him to play correctly. I just want to be with him. To make memories together. And the same holds true for our writing calling.

What if we spent less time looking for the right way and started listening for God's way? Which, ironically, is the only right way in the first place?

Religion says, "Follow rules." Christ says, "Follow me."

I encourage you today to let good of the impulse to find the perfect story. And in its place, be free.


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.


Robin E. Mason said...

oh Ashley, how well i know the struggle :-( Father set me free a few years ago, and now i strive for excellence. because as you said, perfection just isn't possible. blessings sweet freind ;-)

kaybee said...

Ashley, you are right. It is a whole different dynamic when we are writing for the Lord. And with Him.
Kathy Bailey

Cara Putman said...

Ah perfectionism.. Definitely dealt with that one. Hang in there, Ashley, and keep chasing God.

Ashley Clark said...

Thanks for chiming in, everyone! :)