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. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Like thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands, of readers, Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life has etched itself deeply into my psyche.
Her re-telling of her ten-year old brother’s panic over trying to complete a huge science project the night before it was due is one that resonates with me as a procrastinator and perfectionist. (The book’s title comes from the advice given to Lamott’s brother from their father: “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”)
So when I stumbled upon the clip below – where Anne Lamott confesses to making little deals with herself to keep writing – I realized this ultra-talented author is wrestling each word and paragraph down to the page just like me.
And, maybe, you too?
So, happy birthday, Anne Lamott! Thank you for being brilliant and imperfect!