Understanding the Whole: Overcoming Writer’s Block

I like to say that I am not a perfectionist but that I have an eye for perfection.

Being an idealist at heart, I feel and understand the importance of getting things right, of maintaining purity and simplicity in the smallest of things.

And yet, for the past few months, this is part of what has caused so much hesitation in writing, in typing, and in publishing.

Believe me, there is no shortage of ideas – I have tons of post-it notes, blog drafts, and journal entries outlining all sorts of beautiful, simple or thought-provoking article ideas.

However, the situation I am faced with is allowing my “eye for perfection” to see my imperfect, still-forming ideas and to allow them through. Alas, this is a cycle of thought I have already pedaled, from the moment this blog began.

As we grow, change, and develop, we realize that so much of life is repetition – filled with circumstances that we will face in many ways until we (hopefully) learn from it. Perhaps this is a lesson emerged again to help me grow.

XOP2ML991XA few weeks ago, someone presented me with a simple example to help me reframe the way I viewed my whole dilemma of writer’s block (or as I like to call it – paralysis by perfection):

When you take a look at a single leaf, you’ll often find it littered with holes and several flaws. It might look nice from certain angles, but it will still be lacking completeness.

However, as you begin to step back and see multiple leaves make up the branches, and multiple branches make up the trees, and those millions of trees make up the forest – the whole that they belong to is so magnificent, so beautiful that those tiny holes suddenly become insignificant details.

S7LNVUFFD3There’s a psychology theory along these lines called gestaltism introducing the principle that the “whole has a reality of its own, independent of the parts.” Once together, the individual leaves, branches, and trees no longer become seen as separate from each other, but rather viewed as an independent, complete, forest.

Similarly, each idea I have or each article that I write is simply a leaf or a branch, coming together to form a tree of thoughts presented on this blog, ultimately feeding into a forest of content from around the world.

Now imagine if each leaf took a look at itself, decided it wasn’t good enough to belong to a nice forest, and simply dropped to the floor before it could even grow. Would the beautiful forests that we have today ever exist if that were the case? On the contrary, each leaf does its duty, no matter how many flaws it may carry, doing the best that it can to contribute to the whole.

So again, maybe the lesson to be learned is to persevere despite the countless flaws and imperfections I find in the tiny leaves that I write, understanding that one day, when they come together, each leaf will find itself an inhabitant of a more complete, lush kingdom.

Perhaps it is more important to do something than to do nothing at all out of fear of imperfection.

Have you ever experienced paralysis perfection? How do you deal with it?

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