by Kariss Lynch
I came back from the Deep Thinkers Retreat a few weeks back with my story plotted, my characters vetted and chattering in my head, and excitement brewing about my story. I sat down in the evenings after work and began to whittle away the word count and fill out my story. Then, I came to a crashing halt.
I couldn’t seem to get the scene to end the way I wanted it to. The characters were struggling to talk to one another. Instead of moving on, I stopped to let the scene percolate a little longer. Why?
Because it wasn’t perfect.
Here’s what I’m learning about perfectionism:
It is the silent killer of motivation.
It makes stories stiff and characters unrelatable.
Perfectionism defeats and stalls momentum.
And we can’t let it win.
If there is one thing I’ve learned about perfectionism in the past year is that it is very different from excellence. Excellence is doing our work as unto the Lord and not unto man, with diligence, to the best of our ability, stewarding well the gifts He gave us. Perfection is a sham that causes anxiety and wrong expectations about our role and responsibility.
Excellence inspires confidence.
It gives us something attainable we can reach for and achieve.
It makes our writing less about performance and more about quality.
It is something we are called to dwell on (Phil. 4:8).
I am a perfectionist to the core, but this trait can harm me when I allow it to reign. The Lord is teaching me what it looks like to use this trait to pursue excellence and be content with the outcome.
So what does this look like practically?
It looks like phoning a friend when we want to control our words and the story instead of writing the story the Lord placed on our hearts.
It looks like getting words on the page, even when we get stuck, and fixing them later.
It looks like researching and studying our words and storylines with care, and then giving ourselves grace if we miss one tiny thing.
It means holding our heads up when it comes to our story, knowing that each book will get better and better and better if we are diligent to grow.
It means focusing more on our work ethic and character than our performance.
It means caring more about pleasing God than pleasing man. I believe one is a byproduct of the other when it comes to our stories and readers.
Wanna know how we redeem perfection?
We remember we serve a perfect God (Matthew 5:48), who is perfect in all His ways (Deuteronomy 32:4), whose power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), whose faithfulness is perfect towards us (Isaiah 25:1), who perfects, strengthens, confirms, and establishes us (1Peter 5:10).
And this mighty God is the One who gives you your stories and isn’t finished fashioning you into his masterpiece, his own work of art. May we chase hard after him, knowing HE is the one who perfects us along every step of the journey. It takes the pressure off! We can’t, but he can.
Kariss Lynch writes contemporary romance about characters with big dreams, adventurous hearts, and enduring hope. Surrendered, the final book in her Heart of a Warrior series, released in December 2015. In her free time, she hangs out with her family and friends, explores the great outdoors, and tries not to plot five stories at once. Connect with her at karisslynch.com.