Life, Quotes, Writing

7 great quotes about the power and peril of perfectionism

“Perfectionism is very addictive because it is very seductive. It’s so great to think ‘There’s a way I can do things where I can never be held in judgment by other people, that I can totally escape criticism.’ But it doesn’t work.”

Brené Brown, The Power of Vulnerability


“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.

Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friend. What people somehow (inadvertently, I’m sure) forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here — and, by extension, what we’re supposed to be writing.”

Anne Lamott, via the ever-wonderful explore-blog


“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.”

– Harriet Braiker


“A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault.”

John Henry Newman

I’ve struggled with the concept of perfection for a big part of my life, and it’s only as I’ve gotten older (and more imperfect…) that I’ve truly realized what a paralyzing force it can be: it can kill every creative impulse you have, because you end up thinking that something isn’t worth doing unless you can be “perfect”. And so, you end up not doing a whole lot of things because you fear that illusion of failure.

Striving is good. Working hard is good. Improving and creating and evolving is good. Believing that what you create must be perfect is not good.

Previous posts on my blog about perfectionism:

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