The good news: With the exception of my first, every poem I’ve written over the past few years has won something or will be published this year. 

The bad news: I’ve written a total of 7 poems. 

How embarrassing! But it’s true. The culprit? Perfectionism. I don’t begin a poem unless an idea clicks and its destination is sure—which might explain the number of poems (or lack thereof) penned, unfortunately.

Recently, a NC poet drove down to give a private workshop, held around the dining room table of a local writer. Our first exercise after lunch was to free-write (writing non-stop, constant flow, with no care of grammar, etc.) for 20 minutes about a subject of our choosing. 

Go!  

Pens began racing at the rate I imagine someone would use if writing a final letter to a loved one before their plane crashes. I fed off their energy and began writing with fury until I had no more to give—only to realize 17 minutes were left on the timer. 

As we went around the table sharing our experience I had but one word: frustrating. Apparently I’m not alone in this struggle as the instructor pulled me aside afterwards and shared a ritual she’s practiced for years when beginning a new poem: Take a yellow pad, a plastic pencil, and write. The practicality/disposability of the standard pad and pencil serve to subconsciously release the pressure to make it perfect. 

Thankfully, in the big scheme of things, God isn’t looking for perfectionism, as it exists only in the person of Jesus Christ. I simply need to stay in step with Spirit, enjoy the journey, and purchase lots of legal pads while they’re on sale this week.

How about you? Any perfectionist tendencies? I’d love to hear how you tackle them.

If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.
Ecclesiastes 11:4

DAY 19: APPRECIATION

People are often the couriers of God’s wonder in our lives. Take some time to look around. Make a list of the people who have made a difference in your life. Express your gratitude to three of them. Pick up the phone. Send an email. Write a handwritten note. Whatever form of expression you choose, know that as you express your appreciation, you’ll be encouraging them to continue serving and helping others. Sit back and watch the wonder of gratitude unfold as you love those who mean the most to you.