Why We Need To Show Up With Less Than Perfect

Slipping Away
image: dancoachcreative

One of the reasons I’ve challenged myself to write ten thousand haiku is because of the immense and myriad benefits writing them brings me.

Putting aside anything specific to writing, or writing poetry, when I write each haiku, it’s a self contained tiny creative project in itself.

Yes, each one is a step towards the larger project of the ten thousand, but each is unique, and stands as a piece of art on its own.

Writing them virtually daily means I also have virtually daily reenactments of my entire creative process from start to finish.

Which shines tiny spotlights on the chinks and the cracks of creating and helps me see where I excel, and where I struggle. And keeps me evolving, in writing ability, self expression and self awareness of how I create.

Recently, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is around how perfect an idea needs to be, to be able to begin working with it.

Sometimes I find myself contemplating writing a haiku, then thinking that I don’t have a good enough idea, or a fully developed enough idea to begin. Or I don’t even have any idea to work with at all.

“It’s not worth me even sitting down to try to write because I know don’t have anything good enough to work with”, goes the thinking.

(Does this sound at all familiar to you?)

But those times when I have sat down with what I initially considered to be “not good enough”, “not enough”, or simply nothing at all, I have gone on to write one, two, five, ten or more haiku that I’m happy with and have been added to the tenthousandhaiku project.

So what’s been the difference on these occasions?

Why have I sometimes been able to show up with ideas less than perfect – or nothing at all – and still been able to create freely?

It comes down to one simple word. Trust.

When I trust my ability, when I trust my creative process, I get my analytical mind out of the way, let my creative mind take the lead, and the creativity flows.

When that trust falters, so does the work.

And the frustrations begin to rise.

A crucial element to this trust is accepting that the first few strokes you make, or words you write, most likely won’t be the best you’ve ever written.

For me, although sometimes a haiku pops out almost instantly and needs the most minimal of editing, most of the time the first line isn’t the best line, or isn’t even used in its initial form at all in the final haiku.

This little rule seems to apply not just to words within one haiku, but to haiku within a sequence.

I need to write more than one or two lines to come up with a great line, in the same way that maybe I need to write more than one or two haiku to come up with a great haiku. It scales up.

Or, to look at it a different way, it’s the warming up of my creative limbs, the blowing the dust off the records before playing them, or the scraping away of the dried cracked layers at the top of an old pot of paint before dipping your brush into the sumptuous fresh wet paint below.

Trust your creativity. Trust your creative process.

Learn what works. Show up and create even when the first attempts aren’t what you consider perfect. Accept that they are all part of the journey to creating something greater, something more engaging, something more wonderfully you.

You can’t create great work if you never create any work.

There’s something else I’ve found has also evolved from this practice of writing tiny haiku. As I’ve shown up with next to nothing and carried on and written anyway more and more frequently, the proportion of what I consider great work that gets created increases anyway.

We train ourselves, simply through repetition and practice, to hone our craft, to become more eloquent, original and vivid artists. Just by showing up, trusting, and creating.

So, how about you? How much do you trust your creativity?

Or do you only show up when your ideas are close to perfect?


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3 thoughts on “Why We Need To Show Up With Less Than Perfect”

  1. As a perfectionist child, I often avoided doing something that I didn’t think I could accomplish flawlessly. As I’ve grown (in age and wisdom), I still have to remind myself at times, that failure comes from not trying and that lessons are learned from mistakes. But, I think helping my daughter through these same issues has what’s helped me the most. It’s amazing the true honesty reflected in the mirror that our children create.


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