October 24, 2010

First-draftious Perfectitis

“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.” – William Faulkner

Many claim to be perfectionists.  I don’t believe them.  Those sure of their perfectionist ways need to ask a few questions of themselves: Do I strive for perfection when folding laundry?  When vacuuming?  Wen txtng?

We who claim perfectionism need to be realistic and acknowledge the measurable ratio of level of investment to degree of perfectionism.  When I am invested in a task, I very much want to perform perfectly.  Conversely, if I’m not invested, I simply want to get the task finished quickly so I can move onto something I value more.

There are exceptions, of course, like when I’m not necessarily invested in a task but my performance can be measured and judged by my peers.  Oh, the curse of wanting to look good.

Perfectionism can be a good thing, but so often it is a crutch.  Take the first draft a screenplay.  Few other tasks necessitate a non-perfectionist attitude, yet I find myself toiling over words, sentences, and paragraphs before I even have half the story mapped out.

The biggest disease plaguing my screenwriting is first-draftious perfectitis.  I just can’t seem to shake it.  Granted, I haven’t had much opportunity the last several months to try, but, hypochondriac that I am, the mere thought of starting a new screenplay gets the symptoms rising.

Luckily, I’m not alone in my sufferings.  I stumbled across this great article that breaks down the creative process in a way I’d never seen before.  I might as well give it a shot.  The crampbark and couchgrass aren’t really working.