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The Problem of Perfectionism + Project Update!

Hey all! I hope you had a good Resurrection Day! Is it just me, or does life feel like it goes by a lot faster nowadays? I thought I would give a bit of a project update and set some goals for myself this April. Back in September, I estimated it would take six months from then to publish my book. Well, it’s April now, so it evidently didn’t work out.

The Problem ™

I really want to get this book published, but something I struggle with is the concept of perfection. I want my book to be as good as it possibly can be before publishing, but I also don’t want to burn through my savings to do it. Self-publishing can be done on a large or small budget, but the quality will depend on how much effort you put in to make it look professional. So for example, I could spend vast sums of money on hiring a cover designer, illustrator, marketer, social media manager, and editor, but I could just as easily do all of those jobs myself.

Since I know I can do it, the real question is if it’s a good idea. I am capable of doing each task separately and in moderation, but add them all together and you get stress. Especially for someone like me. Call it a strength if you like, but I think my perfectionist tendency is one of my greatest weaknesses.

The desire to make something perfect always conflicts with the reality that it’s never going to be perfect. And that thought is incredibly discouraging. It causes problems in my life all the time. When I begin a project, I have high hopes for it, but if it seems like I will never reach my goal, my inspiration dries up. My optimism fizzles out. Even if an official deadline or due date is set, I procrastinate on the project until fear of failing goads me into finishing. Even though I might be capable of doing something, fear of it turning out imperfect paralyzes me.

Not a very nice way to live.

As of right now, I have found no ways to trick my brain into being more productive and less obsessed with perfection. If y’all have any tips or recommendations, I would be much obliged.

The reason I say all this is to be completely transparent about the way it affects my endeavor to self-publish. It’s not that I can’t do it. It’s that I want to do it perfectly, and fear of it being imperfect makes me procrastinate. So the biggest obstacle in all this so far hasn’t been writing the book, learning about the publishing process, or even implementing what I have learned. The biggest obstacle has been myself.

I’ve gotten past that lurking fear of imperfection in the past, so it should be easy to overcome now, right? Nope! It’s just as hard now as it was then. The most effective method for getting myself to do something is an official deadline. An assignment due date, an obligation to make a gift before a friend’s birthday, and so on. I can set deadlines for myself all I want, but with no actual threat of loss should I fail to meet the deadline, they are useless.

Where will I go from here?

Well, if you thought this post was a fancy way to say I’m giving up, you’d be wrong. It’s evident that I need to change stuff about the way I approach tasks and not be so worried about making everything perfect, but that’s easier said than done. I’m going to set some short-term goals for April and I’ll check back in with you guys in May to let you know how it went. Perhaps that will be a good tactic to use? Accountability has worked in the past.

Current progress:

  • Book 1 final self-edit: nearly done (I recently got feedback from another beta-reader and have been making some additional changes even though I thought I had done my final final edit)
  • Book 1 professional edit: 5% (Yes, I have hired an editor for my book! That’s one thing nearly everyone I have talked to says I can’t do myself. A professional editor will catch things that I inevitably miss and make my book so much better. The edit should be done within the next two months.)
  • Book 1 cover design: 50% (My next goal is to purchase ISBNs for my book, something that is required for the cover design template I am using.)
  • Book 1 illustrations: 90% (I have one last drawing to finish, plus some modifications to the map, and then I’m done!)
  • Actual publishing stuff: 50% (I have set up an Ingramspark account and know how the process is supposed to work, like what size I want the book to be and what format I need to submit the files in.)

April goals:

  • Purchase ISBNs
  • Begin final cover design
  • Finish illustrations and map
  • Apply the beta-reader’s advice to the latter half of my book
  • Begin work with the editor

And that’s about it! Spring Break allowed me some time to recover my sanity, so I’m heading into this month optimistic.

See you next week, friends!

Published by The Arbitrary Fairy

I am a writer, artist, introvert, book lover, and music enthusiast! On The Arbitrary Fairy, I blog about various topics that I am passionate about. I hope that my writing brings a little spark of light to the lives of my readers.

10 thoughts on “The Problem of Perfectionism + Project Update!

  1. I totally understand the struggle. I’ve started so many books, only to leave them languishing when the thought hits me that I’m not good enough to write the book, and even if I do, it will never be good enough or I’ll botch them. It’s a cruel cycle.

    I saw some great advice the other day regarding this. If all you’re doing is going back and changing things that don’t need changing, it’s time to take that next step in the writing/publishing process. I would definitely recommend hiring an editor, if for the only reason being they’re a different, unbiased set of eyes.

    Accountability is definitely a great tactic! I use a planner, so that’s my “accountability partner”. It’s all about finding what works. And good for you for not quitting when the process gets tough. Your book will be great, and it’ll be worth the effort you put into it. Keep us updated!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry I don’t have any tips for you, and I struggle with the same problems, only I can never finish a manuscript. I am so happy that you are doing so well with your goals. Don’t give up! I look forward to reading your story when it’s out. I will be praying for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You have already put so much time and effort into making this book as good as it can be that it is probably not going to improve a ton more…and that’s okay because it is a beautiful story! Hiring an editor is a great final step, and you’re on the right track for the rest. Maybe post some deadlines on your website as well. And you can take comfort in knowing that when it comes time to publish your second book, your many fans impatiently awaiting the next installment of the series will give you plenty of incentive to finish the publishing process. XD

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ack, this is so relatable. But I really admire you for actually finishing your manuscript and editing several drafts! That’s a HUGE accomplishment, and I know you’ll be able to conquer this final step too. 😉 *cheers*

    One more practical thing I do for my perfectionism is to purposely do fun, spontaneous things. It’s kind of hard to describe, but even something random like running outside and climbing a tree has helped me to be more flexible with life, and even imperfections. Don’t know if that will help at all, lol, but I thought I’d mention it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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