Don’t let Perfectionism Block You – Interview With Elizabeth Saunders
By Gabriela Loschi
Many of us have this issue: waiting until the condition or situation is just perfect before taking action. Expert time coach and author Elizabeth Grace Saunders describes herself as a former perfectionist who was able to turn that quality into productivity and wrote about it in the collaborative book “Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind,” published by 99U Book Series.
Saunders spoke with us about this and offered tips to manage perfectionism and maximize productivity – and many other interesting topics. For more information, visit her website.
On “Letting go on perfectionism” you wrote about the importance of overcoming the perfectionism. Being a perfectionist yourself, was it difficult to finish your first book “The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress”?
Fortunately, I’ve come a long way in learning how to not allow my perfectionist tendencies to keep me from investing my time best. With my book, McGraw Hill gave me a deadline and my focus was on doing the best I could in the time I had. So I sketched out a plan of what needed to be done between the time I received the contract and my deadline, including giving myself a buffer at the end to do the final editing. Then I “paced” myself by working to meet certain goals each week. The combination of an externally imposed deadline and internally imposed pacing allowed me to finish–a few days ahead of schedule
Many writers have problems starting and finishing their books because of their perfectionism. Which tips would you give them?
In terms of STARTING, here’s what I recommend:
- Give yourself time to sit with your research and organize it before starting to write. Often times if you’re hesitating to begin writing, it’s because you’re unclear on what you want to say. Begin to write the story in your mind, then sit down at the computer.
- Tell yourself that all you need to do is to write a “draft.” By taking the pressure off that your writing needs to be perfect immediately, it’s easier to let the words flow.
- Remember that there will be other opportunities in the future to write other books. Your first book doesn’t need to be perfect, include everything you know, or be the definitive work that you accomplish in your life.
In terms of FINISHING, here’s what I recommend:
- Remember that you don’t need to include EVERYTHING that you know. I wrote a 256-page book, and I could have written more because I know so much about the topic. I needed to fit as much as I could in the space I had, and then trust that people could find additional information through my writing, coaching, or training.
- Don’t be afraid of editors! Since I was originally trained as a journalist, I learned early on that editors are our friends. If they give you feedback, it’s a gift that can empower you to make your writing stronger.
- Recognize that some people will absolutely love your book and others won’t. It feels extremely vulnerable to put your work out into the world, but if you hold back because of the critics, you’ll never get it into the hands of the people who truly need it.
“Manage your day-to-day” was written collaboratively. What is the process involved on this book?
The editors at 99U chose writers to contribute to the book and helped us to refine our topics to make sure that they were complementary. Also, they edited our drafts before they went into the final publication.
One of the main Widbook tools is the collaborative aspect. How do the authors should proceed to write a successful collaborative book?
I think the most important aspect of a successful collaborative book is a good editor. That person helps orchestrate the process so that there is a focused vision, which leads to a cohesive look and feel.
How online writing platforms such as Widbook are, according to you, redefining the publishing industry?
Online writing platforms give people the ability to organize and share their thoughts in convenient ways. Writing a book is a major undertaking that can be overwhelming so anything that helps with the process is appreciated!
What are your future plans?
My future plans include continuing to develop my coaching and training business through collaborations with organizations that want to increase individual’s productivity and work-life balance.