How to create and publish new products when you are a perfectionist

Perfectionism: “a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards, accompanied by overly critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.”

Can one, as a perfectionist, still create and publish new products on a consistent basis? When you read the definition of perfectionism, you feel like you are doomed to never be able to ship a product. Perfection makes it almost impossible to get work out the door, because nothing will ever be perfect. So how do you create and publish new products, whilst fighting these high performance standards?

The best advice I ever received

The best advice I ever received to combat perfectionism in my own life, and in particular in my writing, is to write a “crappy first draft”. And when I say bad, I mean really bad. The first draft is there to get words on paper. To keep typing. To get in the flow. I keep that voice in my mind quiet, that keeps telling me: “I am sure we can express that in a better way”, “That doesn’t make any sense”. If I am not embarrassed about my first drafts, I have not done a good enough job to keep that voice quiet. Writing this way helps get all the words that I possibly want on paper. Getting to a flow-state is much easier that way. The editing and revising happens at a much later stage.

“A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft — you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft — you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it’s loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy.”
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Applying it to creating TPT products

I take the same approach when creating products for TPT. At the beginning of each project, I have this grand vision in my head of what the final product will look like. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by this grand vision, I allow myself to create a terrible first version of the product. I start getting in the flow. What seemed to have been an insurmountable task at the beginning, is achievable after a few revisions.

Keep focusing on the customer, not yourself

Perfectionism hasn’t completely disappeared for me. However, I know with the “writing crappy drafts” strategy I can keep it in check. I don’t take myself so seriously anymore. I allow myself to make plenty of mistakes during the process. My focus is not on perfect anymore, but on great enough to launch and perfect enough for my audience to appreciate.