Being a Perfectionist as a writer is a form of self-inflicted masochism

I came across this caption today, having had one of those days (actually, it’s been several days) where I have suffered from a severe form of ‘writer’s block’.  The words of this sentence struck me as being particularly apt, as I have re-written the last few pages of my book this weekend at least fifty times (my usual average is between five to ten times).


Perfectionism is indeed a form of self-abuse, especially when you try to force the removal of the ‘writers block’ when you are just not mentally ‘in the zone’.

Of late, as I pass the two-thirds stage of my latest book,  I know what I want to write, but I just can’t do it.  What I have been writing for the past few days is mediocre at best (or dare I say it, cr@p), especially when compared to the rest of the book.  So I delete, edit, re-edit, delete, edit, re-edit, delete, edit etc in a tortuous cycle.

Of course, I know deep down what I should actually do.  I should just stop writing for the moment until the ‘block’ clears .  My mistake these past few days was wanting to see if I could just push past my mental barrier by using sheer willpower.  Well, I’ve found that I cannot. High quality writing cannot be forced, and only masochists keep banging their heads against the wall in an attempt to make it otherwise.  Hence, for the past few days I have been deliberately abusing myself, which when I think about it as a very silly thing to do.

Being a perfectionist, I will always have a masochistic personality trait, at least in some part. However, I have learned something valuable these past few days and that is, when the writing ‘muse’ is not with me, no amount of willpower can force it to return.  Luckily for me, it doesn’t leave me often and never for more than a few days.

So for today, I will stop deliberately abusing myself and relax with what is left of my Sunday evening. Tomorrow is another type of torture that all we mortals have to do and that is an early rise with a long commute into work.  Maybe the ‘muse’ will return tomorrow, but if not, I now realise that I have no choice but to wait until it does.


2 thoughts on “Being a Perfectionist as a writer is a form of self-inflicted masochism”

    1. That is the sign of a fellow perfectionist if I ever heard one! 🙂 Don’t fret (or feel guilty), your writing ‘muse’ will return soon when it is good and ready. What matters (and what is clearly evident from your comment), is that what you write is always to the very best of your ability and to that I say, bravo. That is what matters most to a true writer, the words, the story, the quality. I tip my fedora to you, fellow writer. By the way, Monday has come and the ‘muse’ has still not returned for myself, but hey, when it does return it will be wonderful. Perhaps it will be tomorrow? We shall see.

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