Your Writing Is Not That Precious

This truth might set you free

Photo by Mikita Karasiou on Unsplash

I spend a not-insignificant amount of time watching Instagram stories.

Most of the time, these thoughts and moments from the lives of influencers and yoga teachers and friends flit by me without leaving much of a lasting impression. A source of connection and entertainment, but not anything earth shattering.

And then, one morning, Erin Motz of Bad Yogi said something that I’ve been thinking about ever since.

Being Instagram, the video has long since vanished to the archives, so I hope you will forgive me for paraphrasing here.

She said that she was reframing her outlook to try and combat perfectionism and anxiety. She said that whenever she feels perfectionist tendencies creep in, she’s been telling herself “It’s not that precious.”

For instance, get a new haircut that you don’t love? It’s not that precious. It’s hair. It will grow back.

Have a typo in an email you sent? It’s not that precious. They probably won’t even notice, and if they do, hey, you’re human and it’s okay.

Generally my association with the word precious begins and ends with a certain trilogy of books about a powerful piece of jewelry, but this phrase gave me pause. As she continued to explain her “not-so-precious” philosophy, I felt something like relief wash over me.

It’s not that precious, I realized.

Many of the things in life that we guard so intensely — our jobs, our relationships, our passions — aren’t so fragile that one tiny mistake will undo them entirely or irrevocably.

I’d been in a space where I wasn’t writing much, let alone publishing. Nursing the wounds of some feedback I hadn’t taken well, I had allowed this primal piece of my being to shrink out of the limelight.

I did this because I was afraid I didn’t have thick enough skin to be a writer, to have people look at the stuff of my life and tell me it wasn’t worth anything.

And then, those words:

It’s not that precious.

I had been treating my writing like a precious stone, a rare gem that had to be flawless in order to have value. It had become fine china stowed away in a cabinet and never used or enjoyed.

I’d been treating my self-image that way, too. And by letting my writing and my self-worth become so entangled, so allegedly fragile and delicate, I had stoppered up something essential.

And so, I resolved to take up this mantra for myself, especially when it comes to writing and receiving inevitable rejections. It is not that precious.

Not everything you do in life — or everything you write — will be flawless, and that’s okay. But what we shouldn’t do is let the fear of anything less than perfection stop us from being and doing the things that are essential to us.

Thanks for reading! If you’re looking for more advice on being a more courageous writer, I recommend this article:

Pittsburgh-based writer & wearer of many metaphorical hats. Making words about self, health, books, travel, and more! She/her.

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