Reminders I Needed About Perfectionism and Fear of Judgement (Plus, 3 Important Things to Keep in Mind When You’re Writing)

I was recently thinking about perfectionism and fear of judgment.

If you’ve read my National Poetry Writing Month blog post, you’ll know that I wanted to challenge myself this month. I decided to write a poem per day according to various publishers’ guidelines.

By the end of the month, I’d submit them.

This would be my first time submitting my work. I’ve posted my writing online before, but never to actual publishers.

So as I was researching one magazine, trying to make sure my poem was a good fit, I found an interview with one of the founders.

There’s a part of the interview that made me instantly self-conscious of my writing. The founder mentioned that they can tell right away when someone’s a newbie writer, and frequently sees beginners making the same mistakes when just starting out.

(Which, reading it now, made me realize is very considerate and understanding of new writers. But that’s not how I felt when I read it.)

I got nervous.

Suddenly, the poems that I was proud of looked silly and juvenile.

Now, I’m not a complete newbie, I’ve been writing for years on and off, but no one has published me other than myself.

I wasn’t afraid of a rejection letter, I could always submit again elsewhere, but I was afraid that my work looked weak in the eyes of a professional.

I questioned my ability.

And I had to remind myself:

My writing doesn’t have to be perfect.

I set out to challenge myself this month by doing something I hadn’t done before:

Submit pieces I wrote for NaPoWriMo based on publishers’ guidelines.

That was the main goal.

I didn’t need to worry what someone thought of my poems, ’cause I was really proud of what I had written.

For submitting, I only need to worry about polishing my work, following the guidelines, and making the submission process as easy as possible for the publisher.

If they don’t like it, it won’t be the end of the world.

They won’t blocklist me from magazines because I submitted lukewarm poetry.

I highly doubt anyone going through the submissions is new to shitty writing.

And hey, maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll leave some feedback on my shitty poetry!

The point is:

I don’t need to feel nervous. I’ll make my writing the best I can with my current skills, and send my work off with the pride that I did something I’ve never done before.

Since this is a short, personal post, I’ll leave you with some reminders I needed myself throughout this challenge:

1. Write for yourself and write what you like.

Writing can sometimes be a slog, and you should be able to have fun and write exciting things. If you’re happy with your writing, that’s all that matters. You’re allowed to write for yourself.

2. Be proud of what you write, others may hate it.

Again, if you’re happy with your writing, that’s what matters. It’s impossible to please everyone.
That being said, don’t be afraid to accept useful criticism, you can always improve something. Plus, anything that makes your work shine even brighter is always a fantastic bonus.

3. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to exist.

If you’re trying to make the perfect first sentence, you’ll be stuck on that sentence forever. Just write! You can edit later.
Now, if you’re submitting a piece, don’t just stream of consciousness write onto a page and send it to a publisher. Edit until you’re happy with it, and then send it to a publisher.

Be happy with your writing, regardless of your skill level. You learn to write by writing, and you can’t write perfectly or for everyone.

Thanks for reading, and happy writing!

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