Whoever you are, whatever your preferred creative field, there’s one guaranteed fail-safe method for causing consistent, damaging and painful frustration in your creative life.

One absolutely, so-sure-you-can-bet-your-house-on-it, way of ensuring you wear your creative energy down to nothing, and pretty much completely destroy your current creative motivation, possibly for ever.

What is this terrifying monster?

What could possibly have such a powerful and devastating effect on our creativity that, if we choose to live by its evil ways we may as well have our creativity measured up for it’s coffin, and order the hearse and the wreaths in right now?


Yep, that’s it. Just that one word on its own doesn’t look too scary does it? But if YOU’RE someone who doesn’t rest or move on until each piece of creative work you produce is 100 percent perfect, then… oh, that’s right, you must be still on your first creative piece of work.

Perfectionism stems from a whole host of different reasons.

And often, perfectionism isn’t actually the reason we don’t create at all, it’s just a convenient label to mask other fears.

So here are just some of the most common faces of perfectionism and some alternative ways of considering them. How many have you looked straight in the eye?

1. Fear of being rejected

“If I don’t make this utterly perfect then I’m likely to have my work rejected and just can’t face that experience of failure.”

Maybe you’ll create the greatest possible piece of work in the history of mankind’s creativity. But creativity is subjective and one man’s life-changing art is another’s meaningless junk. There are always going to be people who don’t like what you create, or aren’t attuned to your creative vision.

2. Fear of not being seen as passionate or authentic

“If I don’t produce perfectly realised creative work, work that takes blood, sweat, tears and YEARS to produce, I won’t be considered as an ‘authentic’ artist.”

Some of the most respected artists are loved for their prolific and varied output, and their willingness to move on and embrace change. There are few musical artists for example more revered and admired than David Bowie who often explored more ideas on one record than most others would produce over a whole career.

3. Fear of not being able to move on

“If I don’t finish this creative project then I won’t be able to give my all to the next one, I’ll keep thinking back to how I’ve failed to be perfect this time.”

Some creative projects are bigger than others. Many people have a number of different sized projects on the go at once to help them keep momentum and interest.

For example over a 2 year period a writer may write a novel, and in between experiment with some poetry, produce a series of articles on one of their passions and have a go at some new creative writing exercises, all of which keep her fresh, inspired and moving forward.

4. Fear of the going beyond where you’ve gone before

“I’ve never actually finished a painting before, I’ve always abandoned it in frustration. If I did finish one I wouldn’t know what to with it next!”

Consider the words of artist Paul Gardner: “A painting is never finished, it simply stops in interesting places.”. Maybe you’ve reached some interesting places in your creative work but through fear of what you might have to do next if it is finished, you’ve carried on working on it?

5. Fear of never having another good creative idea

“This is the greatest creative idea I’ve ever had. It’s my one big shot, if I ruin this then I’ll probably never have another good idea again.”

Truly creative people believe that they have a limitless flow of ideas and as soon as one has been expressed, another just as good – if not better – will come along. In fact we’re ALL capable of experiencing this abundance of creative inspiration. The difference is whether we believe we’re able to experience it or not.

How many of these can you relate to having experienced? How can you change the way you approach the concept of perfection to start to free up and increase your creativity more?

© Copyright 2007 Dan Goodwin

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