When I first started writing online, the majority of my focus went towards spell checking my work.
I had my intelligence to protect after all!
If I was opening myself up to judgement from my peers about the topics I would write about, then at least I wouldn’t give them any fodder about my writing abilities.
It was a whole ordeal. I would start writing my article on Monday morning, then review it on Tuesday morning, then review it again on Wednesday morning, then send it to myself as a test email and review it on my laptop and on my phone, and then finally on Friday I would finally send it. (After, of course, having gone through the whole multiple-screen-review process one more time just in case).
I can say with deep pride that I never published an article with a typo in it.
I can also say that I never published an article that was truly vulnerable. Days of editing meant plenty of opportunities to take out parts that I second guessed about sharing.
It also meant that because I spent so much time perfecting each article, I used up all my weekly creative energy on perfecting sentences instead of thinking deeply about topics. And without the time to think deeply, I was always worried that I would run out of topics to write about.
A year later, I do things a little differently.
I sit down to write early on Friday mornings. Once the piece is finished, I step away for a half hour or so and completely detach from the topic. Then, I come back to it with a fresh mind. Move around a few paragraphs here, clean up a sentence structure over there, and maybe elaborate on a point over there as well. I send a quick test email to myself to make sure everything reads well, and then I hit send.
You might get one typo, but you also get a raw message that hasn’t been run through a filtration system of my fears, self-judgement, and insecurity.
Truthfully, if I don’t feel a vulnerability hangover after I hit send, then I went too safe on the topic.
How interesting it is to reflect on that… that my definition of success in writing has shifted from “how perfect is my spelling” to “how shit am I feeling afterwards”.
The funny thing is that feeling like shit makes me feel alive. After I hit send on these newsletters I get a surge of so much adrenaline that I often feel like I could lift a car over my head. It’s why, after hitting send, I usually go for a walk to release all the life energy inside of me. The sun is brighter, the sound of birds is louder, and I’ve got a determined bounce in my step.
But back when success was defined by not having any typos? I didn’t feel alive after hitting send. I felt dread that somehow a typo escaped into the world.
It’s an interesting thought then: is perfectionism something we can even bypass in the journey? Or is perfectionism part of the early journey?
Maybe perfectionism is just the cost of being a beginner.
Maybe perfectionism slips away naturally after you’ve earned mastery in your craft?
Every single entrepreneur I’ve met has perfectionist tendencies in them. The difference is, their perfectionism has outgrown obsessing over the typos in their emails or the success of a single product launch. They don’t spend their perfectionism currency on such little things. They spend their perfectionism currency on the precise value they’re bringing to the world, the right people they’re taking along on their mission, and the success they’re able to foster in others.
Maybe the point isn’t to get rid of our perfectionism.
Maybe the whole point is to start spending our perfectionism currency on more important things than an typo.