I was clearing out some stuff recently and came across this manifesto for imperfection.
This A4 sheet of paper is something I’ve kept for years (since 2001!). Through house moves and multiple clearouts. Not wanting to let it go because on each rediscovery, I find it more meaningful.
It was written by Bruce Taylor, an artist and one of the tutors at Kingston University School of Art where I did my degree. He created this Manifesto for Imperfection to help him in is own creative work and life. He kept it pinned up in his studio.
In essence, it’s about continuing to do creative work, even when the outcome isn’t perfect or how you imagined it would be.
Imagine if David Bowie (or any artist that you love) had been a perfectionist? Of course, some people say he was. I’m sure he strived for perfection, but his version of perfection was so beyond ours. He put the work out anyway and kept pushing on and reinventing himself. We would’ve truly missed out if he’d been too afraid to share his journey. Being as experimental as he was, was Bowie’s way of striving to close his creative gap. Great artists have become great through sheer hard work and not giving up. Trying new ideas. Some things work, some things are a disaster. They don’t stop, they keep on pushing through.
This Manifesto for Imperfection obviously fits in really well with any creative pursuit. But I think it can be applied to any part of your life; a good example is when you first become a parent, first start blogging or first start renovating a home.
Manifesto for Imperfection
- Enhance and nurture difference.
- Communicate by describing, not naming. Don’t feel pressured to name, explore the essence of ideas.
- Act, produce (do?) in a way that feels natural.
- Make as much mess as necessary
- Be honest, admit to not being in control. Don’t waste energy aspiring to it.
- Become an imperfectionist.
Over the past month, I have been living this perfect/imperfect ride. I’m writing a novel and it feels like it’s just a load of jumbled up words inside a Word document. The idea of what I want it to be, how I imagine it could be, seems so far away right now. But I’m determined to keep going.
The story is coming out of me and through my fingers. The temptation to edit as I go along is huge. But editing is for the second draft, not the first. I’m definitely working with the fourth point on this list at the moment; Make as much mess as necessary! At this stage done is better than good.
Do you get frustrated with things not being “perfect”? Tell me in the comments!
You may know the great Ira Glass quote on the creative gap, which is a similar vein to being an imperfectionist.
Take a look at the video and you’ll see what I mean.