Do You Have a “Room of ReQUIETment?”

Continuing on last week’s Harry Potter theme, I want to ask you: Do you have a “Room of ReQUIETment?” Of course that’s a play on Room of Requirement, the fantastic room at Hogwarts that could be anything, supply anything, a student needed. Back in 1929, Virginia Woolf published A Room of One’s Own, which discussed, among other things, a creative woman’s need for space and privacy. (Of course, men need these things, too—it’s just that fewer women had them in Woolf’s day.) But physical space isn’t enough. You also need a quiet, capacious mental space that’s free of judgment, worry, and external concern; and in which you can invent and play and create freely. I call that your Room of ReQUIETment. Create it using the nonperfectionism techniques I’ve written about in The 7 Secrets of the Prolific and elsewhere. See also: Joyful Productivity and The Woodland Trail Metaphor Harry Potter and The Boggart Perfectionism … [Read more...]

Dave Barry on How to Cope With Post-Pulitzer Prize Situational Perfectionism

Situational perfectionism is when something causes your perfectionism to spike. It can be a failure, of course, but it can also be a success. Here's J.K. Rowling, quoted in Salon: “For the first time ever in my life, I got writer’s block. The stakes seemed to have gone up a lot, and I attracted a lot of publicity in Britain for which I was utterly unprepared.” Turns out humorist Dave Barry got into a similar fix after winning the Pulitzer Prize: “I had this feeling like, You know, jeez, does this mean that I'm still allowed to write stupid columns? Because my column won in the distinguished commentary category. No one had ever called my writing “distinguished.” So I wrestled with my first columns after winning.” (From And Here's the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on Their Craft, by Mike Sacks.) (Also an example of how labels and arbitrary categorizations can screw you up. Save them for your marketing--and even then, don't take them too seriously. Just take your writing at face … [Read more...]

Harry Potter and the Boggart Perfectionism

Harry Potter fans recall boggarts as creatures who live in dark household spaces like cupboards and closets and who, when you encounter one, take on the appearance of whatever it is you are most afraid of. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, there's a great scene where Professor Lupin and his students provoke a classroom boggart into repeatedly changing appearance: To terrorized student Neville Longbottom, it appears as Severus Snape in full glower. To arachnophobic Ron Weasley, it appears as a gigantic spider. And to ultra-perfectionist Hermione Granger, it appears as Professor McGonagall telling her she "failed everything." Perfectionism works the same way! It will not just manifest itself as your worst professional fear, but if you do manage to dispel that fear, it will gladly morph into any other fear you might have. Some forms your perfectionism boggart might take include: "My work is unoriginal." "My insights are mundane." "I can't do characters." "My book won't … [Read more...]