Perfection as a consequence

sOne could approach their creative work with two mindsets – in pursuit of perfection or to honour a commitment to publish.

The perfection approach emphasizes quality. It tells us that we ought to not work until the right inspiration strikes us. We wait for the combination of inputs that could produce the perfect output. The belief is to rather not publish than to offer something sub-standard.

But this approach can shrink our output. If we show up only when inspiration strikes, it strikes less often. It manifests as writer’s block. We are convinced that we are only as good as our last work. What we do next ought to be better than what we’ve already done thus far. Our expectations from ourselves keep ratcheting upwards, until we stop.

The publishing approach is to show up at regular intervals regardless of the quality of output. The target maybe to ship everyday, every week or every month. But the constraint is that we do ship – not that we meet a particular standard.

The second approach would not see us improve with every output. Our quality fluctuates. But it puts us on the hook to show up more often – to stick to a commitment and take ownership of whatever we ship. With time, all of that deliberate practice enhances quality.

The first approach, quality is the goal. This can lead us to feel trapped by its ratcheting expectations.

In the second approach, quality is a consequence. Once it turns into a by-product we are liberated to keep up our commitments and do the work we love.

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