If it’s worth doing

I have a problem. When she’s being kind, Holly calls it perfectionism. When I’m three hours into a two paragraph blog post, she calls it something under her breath that I can’t quite make out.

Here’s part of the problem: I love to design things, to draw things, to write things, to create things, to MAKE things. I love it.

A mock of Park & Mark, my unfinished car-finder iPhone app interface

A mock of Park & Mark, my unfinished car-finding iPhone utility app

The rest of the problem is that I want everything I make to be perfect. Rock-solid amazing perfect. And it’s not. It never is. Especially not the first time through. So, I tweak. And I tweak. And I obsess. And I tweak some more. But the thing I’m making never gets to where I want it to be. So, I give up on it. And I move on to something else.

This is a bad habit.

I’ve been doing this for twenty years and in that time, I’ve amassed a depressing glut of grand schemes, sketches, rough drafts, and nearly-finished projects. I’ve started (and orphaned) neckerchief designs, sketches for home-made time-out stools, a social comic strip creating/sharing site, drafts of children’s books, comic book characters, and iPhone app mock-ups. etc. etc. etc.

Are any of these ideas great? No, probably not. Are some of them good? Yeah, I think so. But I’ve quit on them just because I couldn’t whittle them down to perfection in my head.

This is ridiculous.

I’ve spent far too long obsessing about doing it well. So much so that I’ve lost sight of just plain doing it.

A never-produced neckerchief I designed for the Empire Patrol, my Star Wars-loving 11 year-old Boy Scout patrol

A never-produced neckerchief I designed for the Empire Patrol, my Star Wars-loving 11 year-old Boy Scout troop

I found this in one of my old sketch books. Agent Wolf. His arch enemy? Master Mutton.

I found this unfinished idea in one of my old sketch books. Agent Wolf, comic book hero. His archenemy? Master Mutton.

So. A few weeks ago, I made up my mind. My days of obsessing are done. Designing/writing/drawing/creating/MAKING is about producing. It’s about getting your idea out there. It’s about sharing, not hoarding ideas.

Perfection is sterile. It’s a roadblock.

Making is messy. It’s organic. It’s always unfinished because it’s always growing.

And that’s exactly what it has to be.

So. Having come to these conclusions, over the past couple of weeks, I have stopped obsessing and started producing. Holly and I dreamt up a new blog design and then I designed and built it. It’s up. It’s running. There are dozens of things I want to change about it, and the old me would probably never have released it. But it’s up. And the part of me that doesn’t hate it, loves it.

After a couple of late nights, my long-planned Spreadshirt t-shirt shop, Peabody, is up and running. It’s clunky and the designs are pretty rough, but… it’s up. It’s live.

A screen shot of my unfinished comic strip creating/sharing site.

A screen shot of Drawsy, my unfinished comic strip creating/sharing site

Now, knowing me, this flurry of creative production will probably be short-lived. Soon, I’ll most likely slip back into my old, perfection-obsessing, non-producing ways.

But until then, I’ll have fun making and sharing a few things. Imperfect, messy, unfinished, MADE things.

  1. Sarah

    I like your new blog design. It’s purdy. And good for you for just doing it. I know how hard it is to finish something that doesn’t feel finished. Good luck keeping it up. Maybe you can have a “Perfectionist jar”. You know, when you start to over obsess about things you have to put money in it. And then you can give the money to me.

  2. James

    Bring back the sketches for home-made time-out stools!

  3. David

    Sarah, Thank you! It’s a work in progress, but I like it more than I hate it.

    James, No problem. I’ll have to find the stool sketches. Wait… did you just trick me into saying “stool sketches?”

  4. courtney

    that app would be cool. although I don’t forget where my car is very often, actually hardly ever. But I do lose the remote, car keys and sometimes my middle daughter. You have great ideas, I’m VERY impressed.

  5. The Peas in our Pod » Blog Archive » Fire Club

    [...] designing t-shirts for the club, but I never got around to it. Until now. Since it seems I’m all about producing these days, I’ve finally gotten around to designing [...]

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