Imperfection Promotes Creativity

My name is Janine, and I’m a perfectionist.

My novel writing has come to a halt because I was petrified with worry about how it would turn out. What would happen if I wrote an entire novel and it was… bad? Like, really bad? My main problem with my novel wasn’t about the ideas or deciding how to go about it. It was about needing the first draft to be perfect. And that need almost killed my goal before it even got in the works.

I’ve started a new quest. I call it my imperfection journal. As much as I love writing on my computer, it was killing my creative juices and I found myself going back to edit things I had just written when I was only a few paragraphs in. That’s why I bought a new journal. The main goal of the journal is to have it be a creative mess. I wrote about what I want to do in this journal in frantic scribbles, and accented the points by writing things such as:


And then I drew a terribly half-assed sketch of my two main characters. Turns out I’m a terrible artist as well. Add that to the list of reasons this journal is unusual for me.

It hurtssss… the perfectionism… must… tidy…


I noticed, though, that it feels kind of… good to write this way. I’m going to try to add more imperfection into my life to make a point about not needing everything to be neatly organized (which is odd because I’m a slob).

Maybe one day I’ll be able to mess with the organization of my iPod. But not yet. That’s a big step on the imperfection quest. Wish me luck!


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About janinerussell

The transition to adulthood; reflecting on the past to create a better future.

6 responses to “Imperfection Promotes Creativity”

  1. Theresa Jewel Ammons says :

    I sympathize, Janine. I too have many stories that were “started over” or never went beyond the first chapter because of my perfectionism. I buy journals and notebooks and give myself to “be messy” in them, but I often tear out the “messy parts.”

    But, we must remember Earnest Hemingway also said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” It means the first draft is supposed to be messed up. It’s suppose to look bad and/or sound horrible.

    We both need to practice free-writing more often and just see what comes out. I’m taking a writing course that says, “silence your internal editor” or critic. So let’s both try to do that, okay?

  2. psydist says :

    Hi Janine, I see we have some things in common^^ I’m a perfectionist as well and I also am a writer, I have a few ideas and I’m supposed to write a book this summer and I don’t want to delay it anymore by tidying my room hahaha

    I’m going to tell you something that might help you: even perfection is subjective.

    Try to do an exercise I used to do at first…imagine a situation or go to a place or even in your room and try to define everything you see, try to do it poetically so it looks much funny and then save it without changing anything…eventually your brain will get accostumed to not changing things unless it is competely necessary.

  3. TechChucker says :

    I’ve had umpteen different stories stuck in my head, but because I can’t get them out perfectly, I’ve not written a single one. I like the idea of going back to pen and paper and just doing it that way. Might give that a shot to get all this stuff out. It may suck, but at least then I don’t have to think about it anymore. Great post.

  4. Eric M. Friedman says :

    There’s a tremendous value to having a journal that you use to get it all down. Frantic scribbles, as you refer to them, should have a place to exist besides inside your head. I recommend doing a journal first thing in the morning, before you read anything or engage with any screens. And any time your little censor pops up, that annoying little person on your shoulder that tells you that you can’t write anything worth reading, tell it to go away.

  5. Tess Ross says :

    I understand Janine! It seems us writers may have a lot in common! I have also just started some editing work, so putting on my editor’s hat I want to say ‘let the editor be the editor and correct what needs correcting’. No writer likes being corrected I have found, but it mustn’t stop us. from writing! All the best.

  6. WritersIslandUK says :

    Hi Janine!

    I’m Cal, I work for a writing events and retreats business based in Liverpool, UK. I’m a novel writer and Creative Writing student at Liverpool John Moores and just happened to come across this article today at work. I’m the same with my novel, some days I just can’t face it.

    All my progress hinges on how I’m feeling and it can be so frustrating! I’m currently writing a short article about it that should be published on this blog tomorrow morning! Hope you enjoy it.

    All the best for your future writing!

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