Letting go of perfection

Right now as I type, there are painters on my porch scraping paint and listening to rock music. A construction zone right behind my head. My son is playing with his toy cars, occasionally approaching me to beg for a peak at my laptop screen. The setup is less than “ideal.”

When I was in college, I was free from the tethers of domestic life. The only room I had to clean was my dorm. The only people who needed caretaking were my friends, and I was always eager to procrastinate my homework to hang out. Some mornings I’d go on a run, come home and shower, and then spend an hour writing poetry before class. On weekends, you might find me in my favorite coffee shop drinking a London Fog, headphones playing my writing playlist while I typed notes and brainstormed.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Of course, I wrote in less-than-ideal circumstances before becoming a mother as well. Scribbled poems on receipt paper between customers at the grocery store. Lines of poetic musings in the margins of my notebook in French class. I didn’t rely on those stolen moments of time, however. It was easy for me to find large, sprawling amounts of time to work on my craft.

Now, as a mother/wife/homemaker extraordinaire, those tiny pockets of time might be all I have for days at a time. Sometimes there is just too much to do, or I am exhausted by the end of the day and my brain can’t cope with artistic expression. So I try to make the most of the “less than ideal” moments throughout my day where I can scribble down ideas or poems to work on later.

In order to do this, I have to let go of my perfectionism. Waiting for the perfect moment to write means I will never find time to write. Even the most idyllic coffee shop setting can have an annoying noise, chatty customer, or spotty wifi. Other times I may not “feel inspired” or be in the mood to write. But the work waits for no one. And as I have grown up into a moderately mature adult, I have realized that perfectionism is often an excuse to procrastinate.

So now, I am changing my definition of what writing should look like.

Writing looks like brainstorming in the car or while I do dishes and hurriedly jotting down notes on my phone before I forget all my ideas.

Writing looks like sitting on the couch for 15 minutes with my laptop while my toddler tries to reach up and hit the keys, giggling merrily.

Writing looks like wiping away tears of frustration and trying a new prompt just to find my creative footing after an emotionally draining day.

Writing might even look like a newsletter that is less polished, thoroughly researched, or lacking in fancy links and footnotes, because I am balancing many roles in the life God’s given me.

The important thing is that I keep writing. Even now, my son is sitting on my lap stroking my hair saying “gentle…” because I succumbed to his puppy dog eyes and let him sit with me while I work. (He’s saying “gentle” because we’ve been training him NOT to smack people in the face, and this is his alternative. Ah, he tried to scrape a mole off my chin with his sharp toddler fingernails. Now he’s back to playing with cars after a disappointed “goodbye” as I put him down to keep him from further violence.

Despite the distractions, this newsletter will be going out. I will be borrowing some time from my husband later (bless his heart) to get some revisions done and submissions sent. And tomorrow, I’ll be finding the little pockets of imperfect time to pursue my craft. Tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…

What does writing look like to you in this season? Are you embracing all the imperfect moments to express your creativity? Let me know in the comments!


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