Perfectionism and Blogging

Perfectionism is a tricky flaw to have. It makes me want to do everything perfectly – and doing a thorough and awesome job at something can bring on the accolades, which in turn makes me want to be just as perfectionistic the next time.

But striving for perfection is stressful. And sometimes it stops me from doing anything at all.

Take my blog, for example. After not even having a blog for many years – especially embarrassing considering my profession, first as a web designer building custom WordPress sites and later as a WordPress Happiness Engineer – I finally launched one in late 2013. But I’ve only published 26 posts since then! I want each entry to be special and memorable, whether it’s a gallery of images I’ve taken, a story I tell, or an experience I’ve had.

Other bloggers I follow talk about their kids, or their cats, or even stuff they found in the garbage. Why can’t I lower my standards and blog more, even if it’s not going to be the ultimate, perfect post?

Are you a perfectionist? Has perfectionism ever stopped you from blogging? Has it affected you in other ways?

Comments

  1. Yes. I feel like there needs to be a payoff for the readers every time. It has to be funny or inspiring or helpful or SOMETHING. So I will write post, decide it doesn’t have a takeaway, and not publish it. I do it all the time. And sometimes I’ll revisit the post later and realize it was just fine. Frustrating.

    1. “It has to be funny or inspiring or helpful or SOMETHING.” – I can relate to this so much! After re-reading later, you ever go ahead and publish those posts you earlier self-rejected?

  2. I wouldn’t say I’m perfectionist but I don’t readily welcome criticism; that’s why when I started to blog I kept it to myself. Slowly, i let fellow bloggers read me and now few family members as well have access.
    I write random thoughts and re read them to make corrections even after days. I feel it’s a learning in itself to self improve.

  3. Reblogged this on Dr. Brian G Spare and commented:
    Perfectionism is an illusive goal like trying to find the end of a rainbow. You’re almost there but mot quite. I am doing my best to be content with “I did my best.” That is a challenge for a perfectionist like me.

  4. I do not believe that posting about “their kids, or their cats, or even stuff they found in the garbage” means to lower one’s standards. A blog means different things to different individuals. To many, a blog is a ‘public diary’. A personal blog is more like a record of one’s life. Thus, if someone is posting about their kids or a cat, that’s absolutely acceptable unless they’re posting it on a personal blog. It’s obviously inappropriate to post about kids or cats on a business blog.

    People want to share everything on the Internet. People enjoy sharing their happiness and sorrows. People like to share their opinions and observations. Thus, if one is willing to talk about their kids or a cat, they’re not lowering their standards. 😀

    I can feel exactly how you feel. I’ve deleted 2-3 blogs after posting numerous articles on them. My last blog had over 100 posts and I’d maintained it for almost a year but I deleted it because all the posts were written in bold letters. I was willing to make numerous changes to it. Thus, instead of making changes to over 100 posts, I made a new blog. I could simply write the new posts in not-bold letters but that wouldn’t look good. Whenever I write a post, I rewrite it numerous times. I can simply edit what I’ve written but I write the whole thing numerous times even if I’m writing the same thing with a few minor changes!

    When I write on paper, if I’ve to scratch a word/sentence, I tear the page and instead write, what I’ve already written, on a new page.

    1. I think everyone has an idea of what their blog should be, and if you didn’t start out blogging about your kids or cats other aspects of your daily life, I can see struggling with that. But I think it’s good to think of it as “widening your scope” rather than lowering your standards, myself.

      That said, I started a separate blog to write about my kids because putting it on my wine blog didn’t seem to fit. I like that WordPress lets me do that so easily! 🙂

      1. My first blog (joannaaislinn.net) was to have a “feels like we’re hanging out together” thing going on. I covered anything on my mind—and still do. I started a second, however, b/c I’m branching out into public speaking re: parenting. I’ve let go of a lot of the perfectionism. Now to let go of being perfect to put that next novel up on Amazon…

      2. I find WordPress very simple. Maintaining a blog on WordPress seems as easy as maintaining a diary. That’s the best part!

    2. “A blog means different things to different individuals.” – so true!

      Just to be clear, I totally enjoy the blogs I read about finding things in the garbage or the ones with charming photos of my friends’ cats. 🙂

      My Facebook feed is actually full of photos of my cats – I just seem to have this invisible line between things I post on my blog and things I post in less public places. Maybe I’ll try blurring the line between the two more, we shall see!

      1. Not everyone is the same. While some feel comfortable to share everything with others, some enjoys privacy/secrecy. Some would even tell their bank account number to a stranger and some would not even share their Facebook password with their spouse. Thus, be who you are unless that’s coming in the way of your growth. 😀

      2. That’s because you’re writing a blog that has a narrower focus than other blogs about cats and kids and what you find in the garbage. I, too, chafed at the suggestion that writing about cats and kids and, yes, garbage somehow means those blogs have “lower standards.”

        They have a wider focus, not lower standards.

      3. I’d like to add one more thing: if you’re finding it hard to come up with stuff to blog about, you might want to consider whether your blog has too narrow of a focus. I don’t think this has anything to do with “perfectionism.”

    3. Karen – this reply is for you because I can’t reply directly.

      if you’re finding it hard to come up with stuff to blog about, you might want to consider whether your blog has too narrow of a focus. I don’t think this has anything to do with “perfectionism.”

      This isn’t the case for me – it’s not about having trouble coming up with things to blog about. I have an ongoing list of possible blog posts, nearly 20 ideas at the moment. My problem definitely isn’t that I have trouble coming up with posts, it’s that I stop myself from writing them before I even write a word. If anything, maybe my blog has too wide a focus. I’ve written about everything from my family history to a gallery of street-art photos, to a favourite recipe, to my involvement in the WordPress community.

  5. This is definitely something that is affecting my blogging output. I am a perfectionist, so I find it hard to just ‘get on with it.’ I blog about food in London, and I am a part of a huge food blogging community here. I follow them all on Twitter and on WordPress and some publish blog posts at least once a week, if not more. I don’t understand how they have the time and energy to do so! But then again, when I’m home from my normal 9-5 job, I am so tired, I find it hard to give my blog 100%, which puts me off from blogging in the first place. So at the end of the day, those who blog more frequently see more benefits (i.e. through increased readership and followers, resulting in food event/restaurant invites) compared to well put together and comprehensive blog posts. I’m not saying their blog posts aren’t good, but I put pressure on myself to write to a certain standard. So yes, I do think perfectionism is stopping me from blogging to some extent.

  6. I want readers to have some take- away too. But I know that’s impossible for diverse readers. From the PressPublish online conference, I learned having a few dedicated readers is just as important as having thousands. But my subscribers haunt me as I write. I don’t want them all to delete the email before even opening it!

  7. You have to be yourself and write what you want to write. If your topic is something you treasure, you should share it. We are all haunted by the internal self-editor, but if we listen we won’t publish a single post. To quote Anna Quindlen “Being perfect is hard work, and the hell of it was, the rules kept changing.” Just write and share.

  8. My answers are yes, yes and yes. What characterizes both depression and procrastination of not lack of energy and motivation? Until I did some reading and deep thinking about my own behavior in 2010, I didn’t recognize there were such strong connections between procrastination, perfectionism, and depression. Perfectionism is rooted in fear of failure. Like procrastination, depression involves a failure to act and procrastination results from not feeling this piece or that piece is good enough idea to publish about.

    Alexander Kjerulf’s unique approach is to procrastinate effectively ie. without guilt. He advocates using the opportunity to examine why you feel immobilized. Maybe the reason you are procrastinating is that your subconscious knew that your research is incomplete and the piece wasn’t ready for publication before your conscious mind knew that. Or maybe you have done all the research, written what needs to be said and are just scared spit-less about what the response to your imperfect piece would be if published.

  9. Kathryn, don’t wait for perfection – and I speak as a recovering perfectionist. It’s for your readers to judge – perfect or not – it probably won’t bother them. They want to be engaged/entertained/informed. What you wrote in the above post fits the bill – an admission, a dilemma and a question – does it for me. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Anne! I’m fascinated by your description as a “recovering” perfectionist, and curious about how you did it, but I guess that’s probably a topic for another post. 😉

  10. I have learned through the years that perfectionism is paralyzing and is often the root of procrastination. I would like to say I’ve overcome this, but I haven’t. Perhaps knowing the obstacle is a start.

  11. Oh yes! I write my blog pretty quickly, then spend hours selecting pictures, editing and trying to reformat something that doesn’t come out like I thought it would . . . I hit the save and preview buttons about 20-30 times before I hit publish with a trembling hand.

  12. Hi Kathryn – this is a really good topic for conversation. I’d encourage you (as Andrea Middleton suggested) to “widen your scope” vs. lower your standards. But it can be hard, I get that.

    One of the people who inspired me most on this topic is Seth Godin, an author, philanthropist, all-around-wiz of a guy. He has posted every day for +10 years and I’ve subscribed for about 5 of them. Most of the time, his posts offer something provocative that makes me think, a nice way to start my day. And one of the most inspirational themes in his writing is the value of “shipping” — apply that to business or creativity, but don’t get bogged down by making it perfect, get it out the door and move on. I suppose that applies to what your goals are, though.

    For me I will reread a post several times before I post it to ensure it passes my internal sniff test, and fits within whatever guardrails I have for myself that well, I can intuit based on what I write. But once I’ve spent maybe 15 minutes, it’s time to release it to the winds of the Internet and move on with my life to the next thing.

    I wish the best for you and your endeavors — as one great artist Thurston Moore once said, “once it’s left your head, it’s been compromised.” Or something like that. – Bill Pearse

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