Perfection is stupid. “Good enough” is good enough for me.

I don’t do “perfect.” Perfection is so overrated (not to mention pretty much impossible).

Instead, I shoot for “good enough.” Not in all aspects of life, of course – just in the things related to creativity. Or, more specifically, I don’t sit by my computer waiting for inspiration to strike, so I can write the most on-point essay in the history of clickbait articles.

I just write. If it’s “good enough,” I publish. If not, I scrap it and try something else.

Growing up, my mom used to tell me “all you can do is the best you can do.” As a child, that was exactly what I needed to hear. My parents never rode me about my grades or told me they thought I just wasn’t trying hard enough. My parents are remarkably chill people.

But I’m not nine years old anymore.

So I’ve changed my motto from “all you can do is the best you can do” to “‘good enough’ is good enough for me!”

And really, I like this motto much better because one of the sad facts in life is that most of the time, it really doesn’t matter how hard you tried.

“Trying your hardest” isn’t always good enough.

“Good enough” is the only thing that is good enough.

Recently I published a comic book. I worked really, really hard to get it published. And, in an ideal world, I would still be working on it, making it just a little bit better every day.

But this isn’t a perfect world and eventually I had to accept that the book was “good enough” and move on. In fact, as I’m typing these words, I’ve shipped out all 300 books for Kickstarter and am starting on people’s personalized comics. I’m also about 60% done with book number two, with a tentative release date in February.

And looking back, there are a couple things I would like to change in that book. Some of the comics (especially from when I first started) are pretty crappy. I wish I had made the text a bit larger. I should have added about 10 more comics. I’m not 100% satisfied with how the cover turned out. But… it’s good enough. And hopefully, book number two will be even better.

I will never be able to achieve perfection in my writing. I constantly make grammatical and structural mistakes. I jump between topics. My posting schedule is erratic, at best.

Nonetheless, my blog is “good enough.” The book I just published was “good enough.” The comics I draw are “good enough.” The content I create is “good enough” – and trust me, if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t publish it. 

At some point, you just have to let go… knowing full well you might look back in a couple years and be embarrassed by the finished product. But that’s life. And like I said before, if I strove for perfection, I would never get anything done.

Most of my blog posts are written on the fly, at a crowded cafe or in between meetings. Most of my comics are written while watching TV or taking a break from “real work.” My first and only comic book was self published – and the road to self publishing was full of countless mistakes [I wish I would have emailed that company earlier, I wish I hadn’t included that comic, I wish I had time to re-draw this comic, I don’t like the flow, I should have included page numbers, the list goes one…].

There’s also a flip side to this, though. If something isn’t “good enough,” don’t you dare publish it (or you will only regret it later). And I’m not talking about “Oh man, my drawing style is so awkward… I can’t believe I posted this!” or “Wow, and I used to think this post was good!”

What I mean is if you’re not proud of it now, if you don’t think it’s “good enough” for someone else to read/look at/use/etc, know when to cut your losses and throw in the towel. 

Most people don’t realize that this wasn’t my first time trying to publish a book. Back in March, I started writing a book about “How to Survive a Long Distance Relationship.” I interviewed a little over 10 couples and wrote up about 60,000 words. I tried my hardest. I really did.

In the end, it wasn’t good enough. I put the book aside for a month, so I could gather my wits. When I read it again… I was deeply disappointed with the structure, writing, and content. I had tried my hardest on this topic, but it wasn’t “good enough.” So rather than try to salvage it, I let it go.

Sometimes, as an artist, you have to kill your own creations.

Tons of my blog posts will never see the light of day. I have about 20 comics I’ve drawn but won’t ever publish, because I think they’re boring, stupid, or pointless.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how much of my heart I put into something. If it’s not “good enough,” I’m not going to publish it.

Perhaps in a couple months, or even a couple years, I will take another stab at that Long Distance Relationship Book. I might still hate it. I might find a way to “save it.” I still have the manuscript on my backup drive, along with all my other abandoned projects.

But in the end, it doesn’t really matter. I would rather be relaxed and having fun constantly creating (what some view as) sub-par content than stressing and striving for a (probably) unattainable “perfect.”

What about you?

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

23 Comments on Perfection is stupid. “Good enough” is good enough for me.

  1. Well this post is not good enough. It is perfect :) Your blog gave me the little push I needed to draw again. Just for the fun of it :)

  2. Tinker Black // 23 December, 2014 at 3:00 pm //

    I read one of the mottos at Facebook is, “Done is better than perfect.”
    You see this a lot in the tech industry. Companies get their products to market while demand is piqued, even though they know said products are still buggy and/or flawed. Down the line they’ll release updates and patches or better yet, release an updated version.

    • I think that’s completely true. Done really is better than perfect (most of the time, at least). I remember that from the small stink (like a year) when I was working in the tech industry, with all the app updates and website problems.

  3. Omiiiiosh. I literally just came to this realization the other day. xD
    I’m currently a Graphic Designer, and what I find is one of the hardest parts of my work is knowing when to stop and realize, “It’s good enough”.

    Ughh, like just the other day I was working on an annual report.
    I’m in the final stages, and was trying to get the cover design done. But I wasted so much time constantly redoing the cover, feeling like “This sucks, it needs to be better, this isn’t perfect, they’re gonna hate this. They’re gonna think I’m a terrible designer.”

    And that just kills my inspiration and motivation, which in turn makes it even harder to make something that’s ACTUALLY good. I took a break to go Christmas shopping, and once I came back and looked at the example covers I made, I realized “Hey, y;know what…Maybe these are good enough after all. If I wasn’t thriving for perfection so much, maybe I wouldn’t have wasted so much time, and could have sent these off and spent my time doing more useful things.”

    So I really want to take this to heart for the future, and just finish the work. Work that is “good enough”. Because when it comes to clients…I’m gonna just burn myself out if I keep striving for perfection.

    (And in the end, the clients actually really did like the covers I made. :D)

    • Hahahaha. I also think this is really hard for us creatives. Sometimes, when I’m in the “zone” I can knock out tons of awesome pieces that are exactly what my clients need. And to me, they feel perfect.
      But then when I’m not “in the zone,” everything feels wrong. I don’t like what I create. I keep telling myself to wait and keep doing it over until it feels right.

      So much wasted time.

      But I’m glad your clients ended up like the covers!

  4. EllaElaiza // 23 December, 2014 at 2:21 am //

    Well, perfection is relative to opinion. So your “good enough” might already be perfection.

  5. Thank you Grace. This blog post helped me A LOT! I am one of those people for whom good enough is not good enough so I always try to do everything in a “perfect” way, and actually end up not finishing a lot of ongoing projects or works. When it comes to team work I used to be the one who was never satisfied, so in the end I was the one doing everything because I thought that beside me no one else can do it the way I want = “perfect” way. But I decided to change this habit and I must say, my life became much better. Less stressing I would say. But when it comes to things I am doing on my own, I kind of still seek for perfection and that´s why – here comes the point of my comment – I am sooo thankful for this blog post!!! I will write some of your words in my notebook and also put in on the fridge so I can see it everyday! Because I usually realize too late that something was good enough and I didn´t have to spend so much time rewriting or redoing it. I could work on something else. For example, writing blog for my friends, about my life in Japan as an exchange student. They asked me to write it so many times, but I just thought that my “style” and the way I tend to explain everything is too detailed, sometimes slang-spoiled that I should not do it. But from now on, I will try to change that attitude :)
    Thanks a lot! I will keep this post in my mind!

  6. As they say, a piece of art is never finished, only abandoned; I remember my music teacher telling me this sometime last year as I was spending ages on my coursework and wanted to make it perfect. I realised that sometimes it’d good to just let it go and accept that it’s “good enough”, as you said. If you spend forever trying to work your hardest on something you’re never gonna finish it. I think perfection is subjective so you’re right to say it’s overrated. You might think something you’ve done is perfect but someone else may examine it and disagree. My friend was quite a perfectionist at school and she said it ended up really destroying her because she became obsessed with trying to make everything the best which wasn’t always possible. She would get really upset if she did well on a test but not above a certain percentage. Once she stopped striving for perfection she became less stressed and found school easier (I think she may be the complete opposite now though haha).
    But anyway, I think imperfections are good. If you don’t mind imperfections you keep your sanity. Striving for perfection can seem to make you go insane because you constantly think you aren’t good enough.

    • Yeah, I think when I was constantly striving for perfection, I always felt like I wasn’t good enough – like I was some sort of failure. It was rough.
      Nothing is worse than tying your self-worth to an arbitrary number a teacher might give you while they’re neck-deep in papers to grade, on their third glass of wine.
      I’m so much happier now.

  7. best advice from you so far, at least for me :D I know so many people, myself included, that are never content with their product, be it music, illustrations, manga… that they never show what they made to anyone :/ especcialy when you started doing something because you have an idol, that you think is perfect, and you dont consider your work good enough unless its as perfect as your idol`s…

    • Thanks! It felt “right,” writing this post. And oddly enough, I double/triple checked this one several times before I published (which is rare, because I usually just “go for it”). So I was trying to achieve perfection with a post about why perfection is stupid.

      Oh well.

  8. Perfection. Who has it? Perfection. What would it reveal? Perfection. When will we have it?
    The facts? No one. Nothing. Never.

    That’s just a sort of mantra I chant in my head when I feel worthless or inferior. It keeps me going. It keeps me free.

  9. I agree! All we can do is try our best. We change and things change and that means maybe our perception of what is perfect changes. And sometimes making mistakes and learning to pick ourselves back up are the best learning experiences ever.

  10. Celine Chia // 22 December, 2014 at 12:02 pm //

    i guess its the same as, there is no best, there is only better cos there will always be room for improvement and I think its better not to be stagnant but always having progress in everything you do :)

  11. The thing about perfection is that it is an unknown. You might think something is perfect today, but that is because you have not seen something better yet. Tomorrow, what is perfect might become imperfect.
    And, imperfection is beauty ;)

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