Congratulations! You’ve decided to write a book to grow your business! But now you face a path paved with good intentions, meticulous planning, and a vision of flawless execution. However, this quest may also lead you into what I like to call the “Perfectionist Trap,” where the fear of imperfection paralyzes progress, and the book that could boost your business remains a draft on your desk.
In this post, I’ll explore why embracing “done” over “perfect” is not only liberating but also a strategic move for your business and personal growth. So, let’s dive into understanding this trap and how liberating your mindset from it can propel you to the next dimension of your author’s journey.
The Perfectionist Trap
Imagine sitting down at your desk, the cursor blinking on a blank page, your mind swirling with grand ideas for your lead-generating book. You’re driven by a vision of creating a high-quality manuscript that will captivate your audience, establish your authority, and skyrocket your business. This vision, while admirable, is where many authors unwittingly step into the Perfectionist Trap. But what exactly is this trap, and how does it manifest in your writing journey?
The Perfectionist Trap is an alluring state of mind where the author seeks an unattainable level of flawlessness in their work. It’s not just about wanting to do well; it’s an insidious belief that anything short of perfect is unacceptable. This mindset can show up in various ways – maybe you find yourself rewriting the same sentence over and over, never satisfied, or perhaps you’re holding back from sharing your draft, fearing it’s not yet “worthy.”
It’s essential to recognize the psychological and emotional underpinnings of this trap. Often, it’s rooted in fear – fear of criticism, fear of not meeting expectations, or even fear of success and the changes it might bring. Perfectionism can also stem from a place of ego, where the desire for accolades and recognition overshadows the true purpose of your book – to share knowledge and inspire your audience.
Understanding the Perfectionist Trap is the first step to overcoming it. It’s about acknowledging that while striving for quality is commendable, obsessing over perfection can hinder your progress and impact your wellbeing. The trap is not in the high standards you set for yourself but in the immobilization that comes when those standards are unrealistically high.
Mindset Shift: Your book is a living, evolving thing. It doesn’t have to be perfect to change lives, including your own.
The Costs of Perfectionism
When caught in the Perfectionist Trap, it’s not just your book that suffers; your business, personal growth, and even health can pay a steep price. Understanding these costs is crucial for any author looking to move beyond the paralyzing grip of seeking the unattainable perfect.
The most immediate and tangible cost of perfectionism is the delay in getting your book into the hands of readers. When caught in this trap, you can kiss “90 days or less” goodbye. Each moment spent agonizing over the perfect word or sentence is a moment not spent sharing your insights and expertise with the world. You know the adage: Time is money. Delays can mean missed opportunities, lost momentum, and a slower growth trajectory for your business.
In the quest for perfection, opportunities slip by unnoticed. Perhaps there’s a trending topic your book addresses, but by the time it’s “perfect,” the moment has passed. Or maybe there are speaking engagements, workshops, or collaborations waiting on the sidelines, contingent on your book’s release. These missed opportunities represent not just lost revenue but also lost connections and growth.
Increased Stress and Burnout:
Perfectionism is a demanding master. The constant pressure to meet an impossible standard can lead to stress, anxiety, and eventually burnout. This not only affects your ability to write but also infiltrates other areas of your life. Your business, health, relationships, and overall well-being can suffer, turning what should be an exciting journey into a burdensome task.
Perfectionism doesn’t just delay; it stifles. In its grip, your natural creativity and unique voice can be suppressed. Fear of making mistakes or not meeting your unrealistic expectations can prevent you from taking risks or trying new approaches, leading to a final product that’s safe and sterile rather than bold and impactful. The best lead-generating books have personality and perfectionism strips that individuality away.
Diminished Learning and Growth:
Finally, perfectionism robs you of the opportunity to learn and grow. Mistakes are not just mishaps; they’re invaluable learning opportunities. A perfect journey offers no lessons, no moments of reflection, no chances to pivot and adapt. By embracing imperfection, you open yourself up to a richer, more rewarding experience and, potentially, a better book.
As daunting as these costs may be, they also shine a light on the path forward. Recognizing and acknowledging them is the first step toward freeing yourself from the Perfectionist Trap.
Why “Done” Is the New “Perfect”
In the relentless pursuit of perfection, it’s easy to lose sight of a fundamental truth: a finished book, imperfect as it may be, is infinitely more valuable than a flawless manuscript that never sees the light of day. Here’s why embracing “done” over “perfect” is not just a concession, but a strategic and empowering choice for you and your business.
The Value of a Minimum Viable eBook (MVE)
In the tech industry, there’s a concept known as the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) — the most basic version of a product that still allows it to be launched and tested. When you apply this to your lead-generating book, it becomes a Minimal Viable eBook.
What’s the core message or insight you need to share? Focus on delivering that effectively and efficiently in a short eBook. An MVE approach allows you to get your book out into the world, gather feedback, and make improvements in real-time — a far more agile and responsive strategy than waiting for perfection.
And, if you publish several MVEs in a series, you can then bundle them as a more traditional book later – after gathering the necessary and helpful market feedback.
Feedback and Iteration
Releasing your book is not the end of the journey; it’s a new beginning. Once it’s in the hands of readers, you’ll start receiving valuable feedback. What resonates? What needs clarification? This real-world input is gold, allowing you to iterate and improve your book in future editions or apply the insights to other areas of your business. This is why I recommend publishing it as an eBook first. It is much easier to iterate and improve. Waiting for perfection might mean missing out on the insights that only your readers can provide.
Building Momentum and Credibility
A published book, even if it’s not perfect, establishes you as an authority in your field. It’s a tangible demonstration of your knowledge and commitment, opening doors to speaking engagements, workshops, and other business opportunities. Each day your book is out in the world is another day it’s working for you — building your brand, attracting clients, and growing your influence.
Personal Growth and Satisfaction
Finally, consider the personal satisfaction and growth that comes from completing your book. There’s a profound sense of achievement in seeing your work published and knowing it’s impacting others. This experience, with all its imperfections and lessons, contributes to your development as an author and entrepreneur, setting you up for even greater success in the future.
Practical Strategies to Overcome Perfectionism
Breaking free from the Perfectionist Trap isn’t just about understanding its costs or recognizing the value of “done” over “perfect.” It’s about taking actionable steps to change your mindset and approach. Here are practical strategies that can guide you through this transformative journey.
Set Realistic Deadlines
Begin by setting realistic, achievable deadlines for your book. These serve as checkpoints to keep you on track and prevent the endless tweaking and revising that perfectionism thrives on. Remember, a deadline is a commitment to yourself and your future readers. Honor it as you would any important business meeting.
Define “Good Enough”
What does “good enough” look like for your book? Establish clear criteria for what your book needs to achieve its purpose. This might include the clarity of your message, the completeness of your concepts, or the inclusion of essential stories or data. Once these criteria are met, consider your book ready for the next step.
Embrace Iterative Improvements
Accept that your book, like any product, can go through iterations. The first edition is just the beginning. Plan for future editions where you can incorporate feedback, update content, or refine your ideas. This approach not only eases the pressure to be perfect but also keeps your book relevant and evolving.
Seek Objective Feedback
Sometimes, you’re too close to your work to be objective. Seek feedback from trusted peers, mentors, or a professional editor. They can provide the constructive criticism and encouragement needed to move past your perfectionism and make the necessary decisions to complete your book. I often have my husband read my books, and always hire an editor (sometimes two!).
Focus on Your Audience
Shift your focus from your fears and insecurities to the value you’re providing your readers. Who are they? What do they need and want to learn from your book? Concentrating on serving your audience can help diminish the self-imposed pressure of perfectionism and realign your efforts to what truly matters.
Celebrate Small Wins
Recognize and celebrate each milestone in your writing journey. Completed a chapter? Celebrate it. Received positive feedback from a beta reader? Acknowledge it. These small wins are significant steps toward your larger goal and can motivate to keep moving forward. Need some ideas for how to celebrate? Check out this episode of The Author Switch!
Limit Revision Cycles
Decide in advance how many revisions each chapter or section will undergo. Once you hit that limit, move on. This prevents the endless cycle of revisions that can derail your progress and keeps your writing process structured and efficient. I recommend three, no more than five.
Finally, be kind to yourself. Writing a book is a significant undertaking, and it’s natural to want it to be a reflection of your best self. However, remember that imperfection does not equate to failure or inadequacy. It’s a part of the human experience and your journey as an author and entrepreneur.
Implementing these strategies can help shift your mindset from a paralyzing pursuit of perfection to a more productive and satisfying focus on completion and value.
Embracing Imperfection as a Path to Success
Embracing imperfection is not just about overcoming the obstacles of perfectionism; it’s about recognizing and harnessing the unexpected opportunities that arise when you allow yourself to be human. Here’s how embracing imperfection can lead to greater success, both for your book and your personal growth.
Personal Growth Through Vulnerability
Allowing yourself to be imperfect is an act of vulnerability, and within that vulnerability lies immense growth potential. It’s in the moments when we acknowledge our fears and insecurities that we find the courage to overcome them. By releasing a book that isn’t “perfect,” you’re not only learning to be more resilient and adaptable, but you’re also demonstrating these qualities to your readers, inspiring them through your own journey.
Enhanced Creativity and Innovation
As I mentioned earlier, perfectionism stifles creativity. Embracing imperfection does the opposite. It encourages you to take risks, try new things, and think outside the box. This can lead to more innovative ideas, more engaging content, and a book that truly stands out. Your willingness to be imperfect can be the very thing that sets your book apart.
Deeper Connection with Your Audience
Readers don’t connect with perfection; they connect with authenticity. Showing that you’re human, with flaws and all, makes your writing more relatable and your insights more trustworthy. Your journey, challenges, and the lessons you’ve learned along the way can have a profound impact on your readers, fostering a deeper connection and loyalty.
Opportunities for Collaboration and Feedback
An imperfect book is an invitation for conversation. It opens the door for feedback, discussions, and collaborations that can enrich your book in subsequent editions or inspire new projects altogether. Embracing imperfection means being open to the collective wisdom of your community, leading to unexpected partnerships and opportunities.
Building a Legacy of Learning
Your book is part of your legacy, and embracing imperfection in your writing is a powerful message about the value of learning and growing. It shows that success is not about being flawless but about progressing, adapting, and continually striving to provide value. This mindset can inspire your readers to embrace their own imperfections and see them as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks.
You’re Not Settling for Mediocrity
In conclusion, embracing imperfection is not settling for mediocrity. It’s about understanding the true nature of excellence. It’s a recognition that the most impactful books, the most successful businesses, and the most fulfilling lives are not those that are without flaws, but those that are rich with learning, growth, and authenticity.
As you move forward on your author’s journey, remember that your “imperfect” book can and will change lives, including your own. It’s a testament to your courage, your expertise, and your commitment to your readers. So, take a deep breath, let go of perfection, and step into the next dimension of your success.
Are You Ready to Take the Leap?
You’ve embarked on this journey with me, exploring the pitfalls of perfectionism and the liberating power of embracing “done” over “perfect.” Now, it’s time to take the next step. Whether you’re a seasoned author or just beginning to toy with the idea of writing your first business book, I have something special to help you move forward.
I invite you to download my QuickStart Guide to Writing an Authority Building Short Book. This guide is designed to jumpstart your writing journey, providing you with a clear process for identifying the right idea for your lead-attracting book and selecting the right type of book to align with your natural authority-building style.
Don’t let the pursuit of perfection hold you back any longer. Your story, your insights, and your expertise are needed now more than ever. Embrace the journey, imperfections, and all, and see where it takes you. With the QuickStart Guide in hand, you’re not just writing a book; you’re building a legacy.
Remember, your book has the power to change lives, including your own. Take the first step today.