How Perfectionism kills creativity

Girl drawing

Don’t let perfectionism kill your creativity. I’ve seen it happen to people many times.

You see, perfectionism is a fear of making mistakes.  It’s a fear of failure. And it’s precisely that fear of failure that paralyzes you and prevents you from challenging your paradigms.

For example, what is writer’s block if not a form of perfectionism where you get paralyzed because you are too afraid to make a mistake?

Mistakes are an important part of the creative process. If you want to create  something you have to be prepared to make mistakes and stick your neck out. Creativity is not for the faint of heart.  It’s for the bold and brave in spirit!

How often have you seen a child painting with joyful abandon, completely unconcerned about the outcome?  Ask that child what she is painting and after a brief moment of thought she will come up with a precise answer.

“I’m painting a rainbow and a house and a little dog,” she will tell you.  And if you can’t see it that’s your shortcoming not hers. In her mind, the painting is perfect.

But tell her that she is painting it all wrong and you will soon see the momentum of her creativity disappear.

How Perfectionism kills Creativity

Sally was only 9 when she decided that she wanted to be an artist. Already a perfectionist, she loved drawing and made a neat little book of fine, penciled sketches.

Then some well-meaning friends introduced her to a professional artist who showed her into his studio and overwhelmed her with his larger than life canvases and colourful, bold paintings.

Back at home she took out her meticulous little drawings and careful sketches and looked at them with dismay.

They now seemed so insipid and insignificant that she could only regard them as evidence of her own inadequacies rather than the fine sketches that they really were.

She soon lost heart and after that no one could persuade her to put pen to paper again.

Another child might have been inspired to see the artist’s studio but Sally, being a perfectionist, had a fear of not being able to reach the standards she had set herself.

I think it’s a very sad little story and a classic example of the destructive influence of the fear of failure – and how perfectionism kills creativity.

And if you think it only happens to children – just think of the last time you had writer’s block; or left that painting half done. Or gave up playing the piano or – – I don’t really have to remind you do I?

The bottom line is – create with abandon.  Create with passion.  But don’t set such high standards that prevent you from ever starting.

See also Perfectionism can ruin your relationship

Signs of Perfectionism

Be Sociable, Share!
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe to RSS Feed Follow me on Twitter!
%d bloggers like this: