perfection

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Perfectionism can be a deadly trap. I think most people are at least aware of that by now, especially perfectionists like myself.

It’s easy to get so caught up in wanting to do a thing perfectly that the thing never gets done. And, as I’ve heard before, done beats perfect every time.

The real problem isn’t just that perfect is nigh unattainable, but that it can be incredibly difficult to define. But if that’s true, then how do we know when we’ve reached the point of good enough, when it’s time to let our work go?

I’ve been developing board games off and on for a few years now, mostly as a hobby, but I do plan to get them on the market some day. I’ve got one game in particular that I felt was very close until I had a couple of gamers read the game rules and give me a review.

Turns out, it still needs some work. But their assessments were helpful and I’m excited to work on the game more. I still feel like it’s only a few tweaks from being ready.

One thing I’ve found: it’s very easy to get caught up in the allure of creating the perfect game. But I’ve come to realize, there really is no such thing (though some, in my opinion, come close).

Some might consider chess or other abstract strategy games to be perfect because of how timeless they are or because of their inherent depth and strategy.

While such games certainly command a level of respect, they aren’t enjoyed equally by everyone. For many, such games feel too bland or heady.

When it comes down to it, there is no single criteria that makes a game perfect. We enjoy different things for different reasons and even if a perfect game did exist, I’m not sure how we’d recognize it.

On the other hand, I watched a review of the game Near and Far (created by the prolific artist and designer Ryan Laukat). Throughout the video, the reviewers pointed out what they felt were the games many flaws—the parts that felt clunky and disjointed, as well as some of its novelties. In the end, they still loved the game and found it charming, in part because of its imperfections.

That’s the funny thing about creativity. Some of the most brilliant and enjoyable things are that way because of their flaws. They are what make a thing unique, even relatable. 

I can’t tell you exactly when you’re close enough to call your creative work done, because that can be a very personal and subjective process. However, I bet if you ask a few fans, or people who work in the same field, you’ll get a good indication of where you’re at. 

It just might be time to let your work leave the nest while you start hatching something new.

A.P. Lambert

A. P. Lambert is an author and creative professional who helps other creative entrepreneurs achieve more and find purpose in their work.