It doesn't have to be perfect
I’ve just finished editing my latest YouTube video. It’s not quite how I wanted it to look: I’ve had to cut my voice at certain points which might give the impression of leaving a sentence hanging, I had to re-cut in some voiceovers because I forgot to describe certain things in the original footage and I didn’t take enough footage of certain parts so I’ve had to slo-mo it down so I can fit my words over the top.
Then the one I recorded yesterday I’m questioning everything about it. Is it boring? Should I show my face more? Then I was going to have my face introducing the topic but didn’t like how I looked or sounded so have thrown that footage into my laptop’s trash.
But with both videos I get all of the points I wanted to make across. So the fact one cut scene doesn’t quite align with the following cut scene is not the end of the world. I can leave it so there’s a little jump in the footage or I can just put a fade effect over the top thus smoothing it out a little. It’s not perfect. It’s certainly not as good as some of the videos I watch on YouTube. But it’s definitely not one of the worst!
So it’s done and scheduled to go live in three hours.
The thing is, when we’re beginners at something we look at our peers, those who have inspired us to give something a go: whether it’s blogging, Instagram, vlogging or YouTube instructional videos - and we think that our first effort has to be as good as theirs.
So, what do we do? We write, we tinker with the design of our websites, we practice talking into a camera but none of it ever sees the light of day as we look back at the material and think - but it’s not perfect. It’s not as good as that person’s.
We think we’re going to be judged, we think we’re going to be laughed at, we think ‘who am I to think I can do that?’. (And believe me I’ve felt all three of these and more!)
We worry that we’ve done something wrong. That we haven’t adhered to some sort of rule that you don’t know exists. We worry that people we know from real life will watch or read our content and make a comment to us; perhaps at the school gates and we’ll blush so deeply the children will think there’s temporary traffic lights set up. We think they’ll tell us there’s a spelling mistake, or perhaps they’ll say our photographs are too saturated.
We come up with all sorts of scenarios in our heads and It. Is. Paralysing.
The easiest course of action is not to send it out there. And for a few blissful moments we feel relief. I’ll make sure it’s perfect before I send it out you think to yourself. Work on it a bit more. Then that feeling of relief turns to beating ourselves up. Telling ourself that we’re failures.
Letting go of perfectionism is hard. It’s frustrating. But if you don’t let go of it you will never put anything out there into this online creative community. The goals you have won’t be met. Instead of blogging once a week you’ll perhaps manage once a month. And as such the lack of practice won’t make it easier to send your words or videos out there. It’ll be like climbing a mountain of emotion each time. And that is exhausting.
Yet if you did it regularly, say once or twice a week, it’ll become second nature. You won’t worry as much about the fact it’s not perfect.
Personally I have made it my ‘thing’ to show I am learning as I go. I don’t feel I’m an expert but I like to talk about my processes. I like to share them with others, with YOU, so that you know you’re not alone and we are all experimenting and learning. We all find it difficult or struggle because we haven’t yet got the skills to make it how we want it to be.
The key is practice. Sports men and women weren’t born being able to kick a rugby ball over the posts 99 times out of a hundred. They weren’t born being able to run 100m in about ten seconds. But they did see athletes, a bit older than them, who could do that. And instead of saying ‘I’m not as good as them so won’t bother’ they practiced every day.
Creatives are no different. Writers aren’t born knowing how to craft a sentence. Bloggers aren’t born knowing how to design an eye-catching blog. YouTubers aren’t born knowing how to talk to camera or how to edit the footage.
They’ve practiced. They’ve put their work out there. And each time they do it they get better.
Instead of thinking - this is the best thing I’m going to create. Think - this is the best I’m going to be able to create in the one hour available to me and with the skills I’ve got right now. I’ll get my points across. And it’ll be good enough. Then - move onto the next thing: the next blog post, the next video. Make your message clear. Get it done and get it out there.
Keep creating, keep learning, keep gaining confidence. But stop worrying about perfect. Done is better than perfect.