Manifesto for Imperfection

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.

being an imperfectionist creative living

Like that time at the Artsynibs Brush lettering class. Photo by @thepublishedimage

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

  1. Enhance and nurture difference.
  2. Communicate by describing, not naming. Don’t feel pressured to name, explore the essence of ideas.
  3. Act, produce (do?) in a way that feels natural.
  4. Make as much mess as necessary
  5. Be honest, admit to not being in control. Don’t waste energy aspiring to it.
  6. 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.

THE GAP by Ira Glass from Daniel Sax on Vimeo.

manifesto for imperfection

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  1. March 7, 2018 / 7:52 am

    Do enjoying your posts in writing that Video is genius ! It’s also put my mind at rest about my own creative endeavour too. Thank you for sharing xx

    • Susie
      March 7, 2018 / 9:21 am

      Thanks so much Ashley! So pleased it has helped you somehow xx

  2. March 7, 2018 / 7:53 am

    What fantastic words to live by. I probably spend too much time trying to be a perfectionist and it would help to just take it a bit easier sometimes!

    • Susie
      March 7, 2018 / 9:20 am

      So much easier I reckon!

  3. March 7, 2018 / 8:35 am

    I should print this and pin it to my inspiration board. Much needed words, specially for us creators. I’m sure the novel you’re writing will end up being fantastic, just enjoy the process (as I’m sure you’re doing now!).

    Michelle xx

    • Susie
      March 7, 2018 / 9:20 am

      Thanks so much Michelle! Pin it or print it!

  4. March 7, 2018 / 2:23 pm

    Sounds like the philosophy of wabi sabi . A great manifesto to live by, except of course, for the untidiness. Can’t bear that ❤️

    • Susie
      March 7, 2018 / 4:22 pm

      Hehe! I don’t mind this mess too much! Thanks for stopping by x

  5. March 7, 2018 / 3:39 pm

    I so relate to this. And absolutely love the video. Good luck with the writing, I’m sure it will be perfection. x

    • Susie
      March 7, 2018 / 6:08 pm

      Haha, thanks so much Carole

  6. March 7, 2018 / 4:59 pm

    I love this post and your journey in writing your novel. I’m terrible at striving for perfection which is stupid as I’ll never achieve it! This is a great reminder, thank you xx

    • Susie
      March 7, 2018 / 6:19 pm

      Ah thanks so much Kimberly! Have a great week x

  7. March 8, 2018 / 8:59 am

    I love this! I’ve always struggled with perfectionism and find that it often has a way of taking over and sucking the joy out of things.
    Will definitely try to embrace the manifesto! x

    • Susie
      March 11, 2018 / 3:30 pm

      Yeah, exactly and it’s frustrating when you think about things in the past that you might’ve enjoyed more had you let go of them not being perfect. It’s never too late to try and change a way of thinking x

  8. freshdesignblog
    March 8, 2018 / 1:05 pm

    I love that manifesto – I think we all need one!

    • Susie
      March 11, 2018 / 3:28 pm

      Feel free to print this out and stick it up somewhere x

  9. Kirsty
    March 9, 2018 / 8:11 am

    I love this. Current Motto : done but not perfect!

    • Susie
      March 11, 2018 / 3:27 pm

      YES!! Nailed it Kirsty!

  10. March 9, 2018 / 8:17 am

    This is a great post as there is so much pressure to be ‘perfect’ and we are all different. Love the manifesto x

    • Susie
      March 11, 2018 / 3:27 pm

      Thanks so much Lucy, that’s so true xx

  11. March 9, 2018 / 10:17 am

    I really relate to this & being a perfectionist held me back from pursuing my career in interior design for so long as I thought I would never be as good enough as the people I aspired to. But as the video reinforces, which is brilliant btw, if you know you have taste you have to trust your instincts & pursue your goal & then eventually perfectionism or near perfection as I would prefer to say, will follow! I can’t wait to read this novel or what ever else you produce along the way. It will be my greatest pleasure & I know it will be brilliant! X

    • Susie
      March 11, 2018 / 3:33 pm

      Ah Karen. Your words soothe my worries every time. Thanks for your neverending support. And yes, just getting it out there is better than not ever trying xx

  12. March 9, 2018 / 10:31 am

    What a thoughtful post and inspiring manifesto. I can’t wait to hear more about your novel! x

    • Susie
      March 11, 2018 / 3:26 pm

      Thanks so much Natasha! Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend x

  13. March 12, 2018 / 10:28 am

    Well yes I can totally empathise with this. I have a novel that’s a bit of a mess right now and I’m feeling a little demotivated. I’m giving it a break for a while and writing some other bits and pieces so I can come back to it with fresh eyes. Well done for making the start though. It’s so great that you’re writing! Good luck with it all xx

    • Susie
      March 13, 2018 / 12:05 pm

      Thanks so much Kat! Taking a break sounds good, maybe just whats needed. Good luck with getting back into it! So exciting xx

  14. March 13, 2018 / 8:02 pm

    Finding perfection in imperfection for someone like me with a completely chaotic mind!
    I can definitely get behind the following:
    “Make as much mess as necessary
    Be honest, admit to not being in control. Don’t waste energy aspiring to it.
    Become an imperfectionist.”

    • Susie
      March 13, 2018 / 9:27 pm

      Oh glad it’s helped you!

  15. March 13, 2018 / 11:01 pm

    Some great points here. Perfection is overrated. Take your time with the novel (but looking forward to it).

    • Susie
      March 14, 2018 / 10:04 am

      Thanks so much Juan!