Chris Boardman Music Blog: Perfectionism in the creative process

Monday, June 15, 2015

Perfectionism in the creative process

Shooting for the stars and having high standards will make you work hard. 

But, have you ever considered the positive and negative of being a perfectionist?


The good news is that having high standards can push you forward.

The bad news is that perfect is not possible.

If you set your standards beyond your reach you will get frustrated.

Don’t get me wrong. This kind of frustration is to be expected if you are trying to stretch yourself.

However, if you let your frustrations get the best of you your work will be affected.

Perfection vs. Results 

Standards are arbitrary and have very little to do with actual outcomes.

All to easily we will drift into action unconsciously relying on our mood and experience to guide our way.

But what if you are in a new situation and you have no personal experience to draw upon?

What has helped me is making sure I understand specifically why I am doing a project and what I hope to achieve. This becomes my “mission statement” to guide me from beginning to end.

You might think that the why and what are self-explanatory and why should you go to the trouble to identify the issue?

If you are confused about your motivation you run the risk of being vulnerable to any number of emotional roadblocks (conscious and unconscious) that will prevent you from doing your best work. 

Pragmatism and Art

There is a phrase in the art world: “you have to know when the painting is done and when to take your brush off the canvas”.

If you rely solely on how you feel about something you are working on to act as your judge of good/bad then you may end up failing and never know why.

Conversely, if you take a moment to come to a decision about motivations you will most likely have a better time. Your ideas will come more naturally. Chances are you will stay on target and finish on time.

The key here is to take the time to articulate where you want to go, what you are trying to achieve and why you want to do it.

This will give you the confidence and freedom to charge ahead towards your goal.

Remember: perfection is impossible. All we can hope for is incremental gains over time. And, if you strive for perfection and are pragmatic about what is possible you will unconsciously make progress.

Life is short.

Can we really afford to not get the most out of our efforts?


For more about “Mastering Your Creative Process” click here

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