Why Perfectionism Kills Creativity – Part Three

Bird by Bird: Anne Lamott’s Timeless Advice on Writing and Why Perfectionism Kills Creativity

pt 1 bird by bird

Hope, as Chesterton said, is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate. Writing can be a pretty desperate endeavor, because it is about some of our deepest needs: our need to be visible, to be heard, our need to make sense of our lives, to wake up and grow and belong.

At the heart of writing, lies a capacity for quiet grit and a willingness to decondition the all too human tendency to get so overwhelmed by the enormity of the journey that we’re too paralyzed to take the first step.

pt 1 6 birds on a log in a row

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

Neil Gaiman famously advised, “Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.”

David Foster Wallace admonished, “If your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything.”

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.


pt 6 3 owls on a tree branch

Weekly Writing Prompt #23

Weekly Writing Prompt #23
Week of 8th of February 2016

DOOR Template Instructions=====================

(5) Words: | STARE | RIVER | HOLD | TRUE | WEAR |

Poetry Suggestions
Haiku (5 – 7 – 5)
Tanka (5 – 7 – 5 – 7 – 7)
Shadorma (3 – 5 – 3 – 3 – 7 – 5)
six lines – no rhymes – multiple stanzas [your choice] – just follow meter
Nonet (9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1) progression downward of syllables
Cinquain (2 – 4 – 6 – 8 – 2) five line poem on any theme with the earlier mentioned syllable pattern
’28’ Form (4 x 7) or (7 x 4) lines & syllables or lines
The Eco/The Echo – Word count (3 – 5 – 4 – 6 – 6 – 3) A four stanza poem
Blackout Poetry – See Poetry page at top of Blog
Circular Poems – See Poetry page at top of Blog
For further instructions
Fictional Suggestions
Flash Fiction (500 – 300 words)
Any Genre: Mystery – Sci-Fi – Fantasy – Horror – Literary
***You have room for one main character
***You have room for one scene
***Get to main conflict of scene in first sentence
***You have room for a single plot
***You have room for a single, simple theme
***SHOW anything related to the main conflict
***TELL the backstory; don’t “show” it
***Save the twist until the end
***Eliminate all but essential words

These are not set in gold
Use your best judgement

Remembrance: Marcel Proust #31

Remembrance: Marcel Proust

Moments from
“Remembrance of Things Past”


““May you always see
a blue sky overhead,
my young friend; and then,
even when the time comes,
as it has come for me now,
when the woods are black,
when night is fast falling,
you will be able
to console yourself,
as I do,
by looking up at the sky.”
― Marcel Proust

Marcel_Proust_(Père_Lachaise) side by side hotel - grave

Dread Darkness #22

Weekly Writing Challenge #22
Week of 1st February 2016

DOOR Template Instructions

(5) Words: | SENSE | SECURE | WALK | TIME | ALONE |

’28’ Form (4 x 7) or (7 x 4) first# is # of syllables or words per line
Second# is the # of lines in poem

london - Berkeley Square

London – Berkeley Square


Sense the cold dread

Walking in the night

Secure feelings have escaped

Abandoned along with time

Being alone longed for

Forgotten inside hopeless fear

Darkness once friendly play

Nightfall now is haunted

© jk 2016

the secret keeper Weekly Writing Prompt #22