This is a struggle to write. There are so many thoughts and so many angles. It also requires the energy to think and think deeply.
I’m experiencing paralysis about writing about paralysis.
Creative Paralysis (writer’s block in my case) is no foreign matter to me and I am sure it isn’t to you either. Let’s see if you feel me: you start a project determined to execute it perfectly. You avoid it until you can “do it perfectly,” but after a while you don’t do it at all. You feel frozen, stuck, and incapable. It drains you. Every time you sit with it, you find a reason for pause…or think about it a little longer. You are paralyzed by the fear that you will fail what you want to accomplish. Which, of course, makes it impossible to accomplish anything.
It’s a never ending cycle: perfectionism, procrastination, paralysis.
When I am ON, I am ON. I am an efficient and organized person. I pay close attention to small details. I live for being busy, overworked, and tired. I thrive off of hard work and high pressure, always ambitious, always reaching for the next thing to do or big vision. I am productive. I take charge and take action. It makes me feel like I am getting the most out of my life.
However, when I am off, I am flighty and frazzled. I spend far more time thinking about how I want to do something than I do actually doing it. This may be hard to believe for some because I am constantly busy. I doubt every choice I make and question every thought that graces my mind. I let my room and creative space get increasingly messy, even though I know how much I need a clean space in order to be happy. I just can’t confront the clutter. It’s a reflection of me in the moment.
I sink into myself.
I am most at peace when I am in bed. So…I spend days at a time in bed, sleeping, staring at the ceiling and thinking of all the things I could be doing but can’t because I could potentially fuck up (I didn’t know another way to say it). I lose countless hours to inner monologues of pointless self-motivation and all-or-nothing thinking. I tend to study for long periods of time. I never use the knowledge right away, instead I crush myself with the existential weight of knowing that there will be some sort of obstacle.
Up until recently, I just considered myself a bit lazy. I reckoned that if I just worked a little harder and pushed a little more, I would be able to accomplish the things I set out to do. Failing to do them was a failure of my character. I have a reputation of producing great work to uphold.
I told myself that I had to get my shit together (another time I couldn’t find a better word). I had to do all of these things so that I could prove I was not worthless or even worst…overrated. I inevitably succumbed to depression under that pressure.
Sounds repetitive right? That’s because it is. It’s a vicious, repetitive, monotonous cycle. It is a constant come and go that happens at lightning speeds or doesn’t happen at all. It is confusing and intimidating to say the least.
Too much perfectionism is toxic. Expecting perfection only leaves you with two options: do everything right on the very first try, or don’t even attempt. Which in real life, things are rarely perfect on the first try.
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.”
I have never been able to sit back and watch one of my productions and be content. I don’t think most producers and directors ever do. However, I even struggled to find what I knew was good. I was always considering what wasn’t there. Audiences would love it, and I’d be proud, but I never feel complete.
“It’s not everything I wanted it to be. I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough support. Why isn’t this a bigger deal? What’s taking so long for people to catch on…?”
Mistakes are essential to human progress and personal development, so why do we keep telling ourselves that we are not allowed to make any? How can we ever break free of this vicious cycle when it renders us incapable of taking action?
Paralysis isn’t stopping anyone from taking action so much as it is taking up all their time and energy before they have the chance to do much else. Here’s the thing: perfectionism, even and especially when it prevents you from being productive, is a lot of really hard work. It was ten times harder to write this article out in my head than it is to just sit down and do it.
Perfectionism is exhausting. It steals your time, your energy, your joy, your life.
Realizing that is half the battle. The rest involves a lot of mistakes and mishaps and bad drafts.
My advice is take a small step at a time. It does not matter how small, but every time you are paralyzed, DO SOMETHING…even if it is insignificant. Write a sentence. Make one small plan. Wash a dish. Sing a bar. Research one thing. Etc.
Life is a lot better when you allow yourself to live it.