(This article is an extended response to MasonM's article "Perfection Is Overrated".)
When I started writing again a couple of years back, stuff just sort of flowed out of me like water. There was no effort and it was a joy to write, poems, stories, whatever.
In my attempts to do well and to impress more people, I might have caused an injury to my own creative spirit.
About two years ago, I embarked on a quest to get my poems published. Knowing next to nothing about the standards required, I sent a batch off to a couple of online poetry journal sites (and I don't mean poetry.com).
They were promptly rejected.
I wasn't exactly surprised. I wasn't that naive to think that it can all happen for me overnight.
Actually the rejection letters didn't make me feel bad or even discouraged but they made me even more determined to better my craft.
So, I bought a lot of poetry books, read all I can from books and online poetry sites. I wrote stuff and put some of that through some honest no-holds barred critique. I really felt like I learnt a lot and improved quite a bit too when I was doing that.
Every couple of months, I was sending stuff off to online poetry journals. All of them were rejected. And yet with all this, it was not the rejections that hurt me. Instead of taking things at proper pace, I started really pushing it. I gave myself datelines, and forced myself to do writing exercises and "assignments" which looking back now, is a good way to make something very unenjoyable.
I think that's when I tore something, like an athlete might tear a ligament overdoing it.
In the end, the work produced had no heart. A lot of the work I did started looking forced. And then I just don't want to write at all. All this because I wanted so much to do well and get accepted / published / etc.
I have no doubt I will go back to it again. I hope I will not make the same mistakes in pace and attitude again.