Perfectionism: A Great Muse-Strangler

I currently have a half-written blog post about perfectionism and its destructive effect on creativity. For some reason, every time I get back to it, I’m interrupted…hmmm…there’s that stressful life making things difficult again…

Until I can finish up what I have to say about the evils of perfectionism, I’m going to share a few words of wisdom on the topic from other creative people:

“A lot of disappointed people have been left standing on the street corner waiting for the bus marked Perfection.” —Donald Kennedy path on peat moor

“Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try again.”
—Julia Cameron

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”
—Anna Quindlen

“The maxim ‘Nothing but perfection’ may be spelled ‘Paralysis’.”
—Winston Churchill

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”
—Salvador Dali

“An artist who aims at perfection in everything achieves it in nothing.”
—Eugene Delacroix

“Perfectionism is the enemy of creation…” —John Updike


8 Responses to “Perfectionism: A Great Muse-Strangler”

  1. 1 Cathryn September 22, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Thanks for these quotes, exactly what I needed today. It’s amazing to read these comments from the likes of Dali and Updike!

    • 2 stranglingmymuse September 22, 2009 at 10:09 am

      I’m glad they resonate with you as much as they do with me, Cathryn! I think a lot of writers struggle with perfectionism and its debilitating effect on our creativity.

  2. 3 K a b l o o e y September 22, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    I’m always afraid of people reading and thinking it’s just lame, or self-indulgent, trite, mediocre. Not the blog stuff — that’s self-indulgent and rushed and imperfect by nature (mine, not yours). But the screenwriting; I was constantly judging myself and getting stuck.

    • 4 stranglingmymuse September 22, 2009 at 8:35 pm

      Believe me, I can relate. I think the Julia Cameron quote above really speaks to how we’re hurting ourselves and our work with that kind of thinking.

      I find blogging and its necessary quick pace to be an interesting exercise in letting go of perfection. I try to stop myself from going back and making small changes in past posts, but I admit to having done it on occasion. Believing things must be perfect means nothing’s really ever completed.


  3. 5 sharni montgomery September 26, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Hello fantastic. These quotes were like the teacher appearing cos this student was ready.
    Have been crazily aiming for too much perfection. This was reality check. thanks

    • 6 stranglingmymuse September 27, 2009 at 12:00 am

      Great — I’m glad the quotes were helpful, Sharni. Read my next post to see how badly I need the reality check myself.

  4. 7 Shari March 30, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Hi there. Just discovered this post today. I blogged about perfectionism & creativity earlier today — wish I’d read these quotes first, lol! Good ones, for sure. Thanks for sharing them. 🙂

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