I've learned a ton throughout the years, but most of it I've learned in complete silence. No learning exhaust. No showing my work, no story, nothing. Reading "Show your work" by Austin Kleon made me realize that it's the wrong way of going about this, especially for me.
I began to search for the reason behind that. I've had a blog for over 10 years now but I've only published a few dozen posts in that time.
Perfectionism is a wonderful thing to pursue, as long as you acknowledge that you're unlikely to ever achieve it.
I've been obsessed with perfectionism, but not in a healthy way. Since nothing is ever perfect, my range of action so far has varied between no action at all - and - investing a lot of work into something until I eventually give up because it's never good enough.
In the eyes of a perfectionist, the reasons not to start or complete something are always sound.
"Can't publish because this thing is just not good enough just yet. Work on it some more. Until you give up and start a new idea."
– or –
"Don't even try - you know you'll need to spend months and it just won't be good enough, so you might as well give up before you even started."
So what's the cure?
In 2017 a trend swooped through Twitter for a few weeks called Brutalism. It's truly brutal, in terms of how "well designed" some of those designs were, but there's a lesson that can be learned from Brutalism. It doesn't have to be perfect. It just needs to exist.
If brutalist design is what I'm after, I can let my perfectionism loose on it. Go ahead, and enjoy your brutally simple goal.
Time and time again, I've found that the best things come out of doing something that I feel resistance to. Something that's brutally simple, is just not good enough for the perfectionist. So there's the resistance that I've felt for too long. It's time for action, to take the uncomfortable path.
This is my blank slate. Here are some features:
- Words written in markdown appear on the page
- Alignment and Spacing are good enough
- Font is readable
- No "Tweet this" widget
- No likes feature
- No comment box
- No dark mode
- No design (*almost)
Begin again is a phrase that I've internalized from Joseph Goldstein with his guided meditations on the 10 percent app. Whenever a thought distracts you - simply begin again.
Begin again is such an easy phrase. It's not starting over, it's not a huge deal, it's not a complete reset, it's just a part of the process - it's just beginning again, and again and again.
So that's what I'm doing now.
Time to begin again.