Perfectionism is a brutal enemy.

Yesterday I was talking to one of my freelance writing students about an assignment she was struggling with.

I asked a few questions and quickly realized she was wrestling with a familiar foe: perfectionism. Or as Steven Pressfield would say, “The Resistance.”

It doesn’t matter what you call it. What matters is that you confront it and fight through it.

It’s easy to talk about fighting the Resistance when you’re not facing it. But when you are it feels impossible to get through it.

You get bombarded with all sorts of negative thoughts that accuse you of being a phony and not being good enough. And if you listen to those thoughts for too long they’ll take you out of the game completely. They’re deadly.

So what do you focus on instead?

Do you look in the mirror and repeat a bunch of positive affirmations? “I am a talented writer… I am a talented writer…”

Do you take a break from your writing and come back when you’re feeling more “inspired?”

Do you phone a friend and ask for a word of encouragement?

Nothing wrong with any of those things. And of course, do whatever helps you make progress.

Commit to A Deadline

But for me one of the biggest weapons I feel I have against the Resistance and perfectionism is mustering up the courage to committing to a deadline.

If I have to get something done by a certain date then I’m left with a choice: I either give in to the Resistance and admit I’m powerless of it’s influence over me and quit.

Or I say, “Hey, this is tough and nothing in me feels like doing the work. But I’ll do it anyway. And I’ll do it by this date. Regardless of what’s going on in or around me.

I remind myself that “Done is better than perfect.” And I write the next word. And the next. Until I have something tangible to look at. I may hate the thing I created but I hate it less than producing nothing.

If writing sounds tough that’s because sometimes it is.

It’s psychological warfare and your enemy doesn’t play fair. So don’t compromise. Don’t give into “writers block” or believe the lie that says you have to wait to write until you feel inspired. Learn to do the work regardless of how you feel because that’s what professionals do. They show up every day and do the work.