Friday, January 28, 2011


Perfectionism keeps me from:

Long history of perfectionism, but this really helped.

"The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.  His procedure was simple: fifty pounds of pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B", and so on. Those being graded on "quality" however, needed to produce only one pot - albeit a perfect one - to get an "A". Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of the highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

To require perfection is to invite paralysis. The pattern is predictable: as you see error in what you have done, you steer your work toward what you imagine you can do perfectly. You cling ever more tightly to what you already know you can do - away from risk and exploration, and possibly further from the work of your heart. You find reasons to procrastinate, since to not work is to not make mistakes. Believing that artwork should be perfect, you gradually become convinced that you can't make such work (you are correct). Sooner or later, since you can't do what you are trying to do, you quit. And in one of the perverse little ironies of life, only the pattern itself achieves perfection - a perfect death spiral: you misdirect your work; you stall; you quit."

From "ART AND FEAR" by David Bayles and Ted Orland

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