Quick Thoughts on “Finished, Not Perfect”

Homer's bad Florida costume for Lisa

Whoops! I got busy over the past couple of weeks, which has kind of wrecked my blogging productivity. I didn’t have quite enough time to get everything done just the way I wanted. I didn’t have time to get everything perfect, so nothing got done.

I did it wrong. I forgot the code: “Finished, Not Perfect.”

Finished, not perfect. It doesn’t mean intentionally doing (or settling for) bad work. It’s just-plain getting work done, and it’s advice that we can all get behind, especially during exceptionally busy times of our lives. It’s also the mantra of Jake Parker, professional artist and creator of Inktober. I’ll let the man himself tell you exactly what “finished, not perfect” means by sharing his short video about it:

Unfortunately, I’m predisposed to wanting everything to be perfect—blogs, artwork, sweeping the floor, everything I do. I want to put out quality work at all times, and so I try to deliver way more than I actually have time to do. On top of that, I feel an artificial pressure that I have to keep up a “brand” and a “reputation” by regularly (well, semi-regularly, at least) posting on social media, and so a lot of times, I put out work I don’t even really care that much about—it’s just there because my Instagram had been quiet for awhile. I don’t give myself time to practice or experiment or get better because even my little practice doodles in my sketchbook have to be “perfect.” All of that stresses me out. I never get around to finishing everything I want to do, and then I worry that I’ve let people down.

This is valuing perfection over completion. It’s a trap. I can’t be perfect, but I can get better at my craft. If I don’t put in the work, I can’t get better. Therefore, I have a choice: chase perfection and never truly get anything done, or pursue the thrill of finishing something and put the product in the hands of somebody who will enjoy it.

Here’s the thing: nothing can be perfect. There’s no time, and I’m not perfect, anyway. It’s not happening. And that’s okay. All I can do is the best I can in the time I have. I think my D&D blogs have been a good example of this. I know they’re not perfect, but they’re not supposed to be—they’re a journal, not a thesis. I took on the project to encourage myself to write more often. It’s technically practice, but also a little side project to give an obscure old game I enjoy some love. However, I’ve noticed myself subtly putting more and more time into the blogs, including finer-toothed editing, extra research to make sure my foot isn’t living in my mouth, and so on, which is why you haven’t seen the latest entry, yet. These are all good things, but I don’t want to take it too far, otherwise these blogs will never see the light of day, like many of my other projects on permanent hiatus that I’m too afraid to start because they aren’t perfect enough.

Whoever you are, whatever you do, whatever you’re working on, finish it. Finishing your work will make you feel good about yourself and your accomplishments, and can brighten someone else’s day, too. Work that is shoved into a drawer because it’s not perfect will only stress you out. Finish it. You’ve got this.