Step 10

The Dreamer’s Manual:
16 Steps to Achieve Your Creative Goals

Step 10: Be an Imperfectionist


Artists are craftspeople. They want to produce high quality work, but constantly chasing perfection can lead to unfinished projects, and an unsatisfying career.

One key to finishing projects is to figure out your optimal work cycle. Creative people are often easily distracted, and there may be a set time frame within which you need to finish your work, or it may never be completed.

Imagine you are a sculptor who specializes in making horse sculptures. When you think of a new design, you sketch it out, then build a small clay model. But your initial models are never quite right, so you always build a few more. Invariably, before you have perfected your model, you start working on a new idea, and abandon the original project.

Your quest for perfection has allowed you to form the habit of leaving your work unfinished. This is a frustrating process, and it means you never have sculptures to sell or put in shows.

In order to resolve this issue, you must determine your optimal work cycle, which is the window of time within which you must complete work before it is put on the back shelf, in favor of a new project.

You can figure out your work cycle by tracking the following information on a calendar:

  1. Date project started
  2. Date draft completed
  3. Date project completed

In the above calendar, the first project was not finished before the second project was started. However, the third project was completed because it was all done in a relatively short time frame (five days).

Creating a project calendar can be an effective way to figure out a successful work cycle. If you consistently abandon projects, tracking your efforts will provide you with the information you need to change your habits.

Instead of trying to perfect your work, figure out your optimal work cycle, and use this information to help you complete your projects.

Step 10: Be an imperfectionist