Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Are you a Perfectionist or an Idealist?

I recently received an advertisement in my email inbox from a famous makeup company with a very French name. The header said:

Are you a Perfectionist or an Idealist?

This particluar company has a line of facial products that fall under each title. Now, I'm sure this was not the intent of the marketing gurus at French Cosmetic Company, but I immediately thought about how this applies to writing (that sort of thing happens to writers a lot--to the dismay of cosmetics marketing gurus).


According to http://www.dictionary.com/, a perfectionist is a person who adheres to or believes in perfectionism, which is a propensity for being displeased with anything that is not perfect or does not meet extremely high standards.

That sounds good. Right? Only if its helpful. A perfectionist is someone who demands perfection, both of himself and of others. This can be one of those stumbling blocks that keeps us from actually accomplishing anything. As a teacher, I always tell my students that writing isn't finished until it's finished. It goes both ways, though. When writing is finished, it's finished. I'll chant the praises of revision as long as anyone, but at some point revision has to end, or it is simply procrastination.


An idealist is one who cherishes or pursues high or noble principles, purposes, goals, etc.

Now that sounds really good--heroic even! Not necessarily. The other side of the idealist coin is impracticality. Being a visionary is great, especially for copywriters, and idealism deals with imagination, which can bring all types of writing to life. If we want to pay the bills, though, we have to be at least partly realistic. Being a visionary isn't always practical. Sometimes we have to save the idealism for the part of our writing that is still a hobby, or use it as a seasoning, to spice up the realism that clients actually need to sell their product.

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