Are You Struggling to Actually Launch Your Freelance Writing Career?

When I was finally forced into fully focusing on my freelance writing career because my salaried job was eliminated in a corporate restructuring, I couldn’t launch my website for over three weeks because I am a perfectionist.

Perfectionism can really hamper your ability to even get started with your freelance writing business.

Are You Struggling to Actually Launch Your Freelance Writing Career?

Perfectionism can really hamper your ability to even get started with your freelance writing business.

I’d signed up for a course about a month before losing my full-time job. I spent time learning how to build that website. I followed all the suggestions and finally had a working site. So why the hesitation with publishing?

I didn’t want to look stupid to other professionals searching for a writer. I kept tweaking and adjusting. That picture can’t go there. That sounds stupid.

Why can’t I figure out how to make this work?

I gave up and started over several times. It was never what I wanted it to be – slick, exciting, a magnet for those needing my services.

My need for it to be perfect was holding me back.

What Causes Perfectionism?

It stems from fear – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of not being as good as the others in your field, fear of coming off too strong, fear of being discovered as an imposter. The list goes on and on.

Fear leads to anxiety, and anxiety leads to procrastination.

Is Perfectionism a Bad Thing?

Society rewards hard work and high standards, which produce quality products. Society praises those who are conscientious and thorough, who strive to do better than last time.

But trying to get better isn’t perfectionism

Bottom line is that real perfectionism isn’t about “having high standards.” It’s about control. It’s about trying to have an impossible, irrational level of control over a world that is, by and large, uncontrollable.

How Can I Get Past Perfectionism?


I wanted to get past this hurdle and launch my new freelance writing business.

In order to keep moving forward, I needed to learn to be what I call Passably Perfect. Passably Perfect means that instead of being perfect, my work just needs to be “good enough” to post.

Let’s look at 5 ways to change the thought process created by perfectionism:

1. Remind Yourself that Perfect is Intimidating

I’ll let you in on a little secret – no one connects with perfect. It puts people off. It only reminds others of their own shortcomings and imperfections.

If you let others see your flaws, they can identify with you. They don’t necessarily want to see you fail. But they can connect with your flaws.

Sure, I didn’t want that prospective client to see something that isn’t professional in nature. But no client would discover me at all if I didn’t put something out there, no matter how imperfect it might be. So I decided to settle for Passably Perfect — the idea that it was good enough for now. After all, as Wayne Gretzky, professional hockey player, once said, “you miss 100% of the shots you never take.” I had to just put it out there.

2. Define “Good Enough”

Brene Brown says “Healthy striving is self-focused: ‘How can I improve?’ Perfectionism is other-focused: ‘What will they think?'”

It’s important to focus on specific ways you can improve and not just on being perfect. You must shift from others’ opinions to your own opinions being the ones that matter.

All I can do is MY best. When I let go of the urge to compare my work to those who have been doing the same work for many months or many years longer, I began to accept that I am doing the best work I know how to do at this moment. I had to set my goal to “be better than yesterday” and allow my work to be “good enough.” I did not need to be the GOAT, I just needed to be Passably Perfect.

3. Know the Answer to “What If”

So what if you do actually put yourself out there and submit that guest post to your favorite blog and the worst happens — the laughing is so loud you can hear them from three states away?

You refer back to #1 above and say “so what?” You revise and try again, either with a different focus or on another blog site. Or you write something new.

All the greats have suffered setbacks. Thomas Edison found 10,000 ways that didn’t create the incandescent light bulb. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. And Henry Ford burned through all the money from his first group of investors without producing a car.

Abraham Lincoln says it best:

I kept writing new posts instead of just re-writing old ones. The constant revision was keeping me too focused on being perfect. Each new article or blog post brought me closer to being Passably Perfect.

4. Test Your Environment and Recreate Your Thinking

Just for fun, let that stapler on your desk sit at a weird angle. It got bumped when you sat down. The perfectionist in you wants to make your desk perfectly arranged before you start. But leave it and see if your world explodes.

When you realize it didn’t (or, ok, when you simply can’t stand it any longer!) straighten it.

I found it very helpful to go and look at successful writers’ websites. This can be a dangerous voyage for some perfectionists. But I took my chances.

My first reactions were “oh, I would never have put that there” or “that color is ALL wrong!” or “I wouldn’t use that font … it’s too fussy.” Once a perfectionist, always a perfectionist, right?

But what I realized is that perfect for that writer may not be perfect for me. And therefore perfect is a subjective definition. It means something different to each creator, just like “good enough” means something different to everyone.


Perfectionism can lead to procrastination, stemming from fear. But you can overcome the speedbump by letting go of the idea that perfect is the ultimate goal. Your goal is your best. Passably Perfect.

Just. Write. Something. That became my daily mantra, written on a sticky note, hung just above my workspace. Things can always be refined at a later date. For now, they are Passably Perfect.

Deb is a writer and questioner, a fan of penguins, music & books. She is an overplanning, often anxious, lover of travel and of history.
When she's not composing at her computer, you'll probably find her with a box of tissues and a good romance book or binge-watching a compelling series on Netflix. Learn more at

Leave a Reply


Wow! Just now I figured out, not answer but question for my fear. And I got also answer on that. Perfectionism – here we go! I will do my best these days and start a blog (but now for sure). Thank you, it was really useful.Reply to Tijana
Glad you got something out of it! I still struggle some days with the perfectionism. Remind yourself that you can always edit!Reply to Deb
This was just what I needed to hear at a crossroad my life. Thank you for putting this out there!Reply to Chris
Glad you connected with it! It was comforting for me to learn that even blog posts can be modified after they’re published. It made it easier to post knowing I could go back and re-write!Reply to Deb
Thanks for a great post. The words totally resonated with me, as I am in the “start again” (for like the third or fourth or tenth time!) phase of getting my business together.Reply to Rebecca
I’m glad you liked it! I am often tempted to give up when the perfecionism is winning. But I remind myself that I can always edit later!Reply to Deb
This is an excellent piece. I’m now 10 years in and still have moments when I have to fight with my obsession with perfectionism, but it was indeed crippling when I was just starting out.Reply to Alice
Thanks for the kind words. I still hover over that “publish” button often!Reply to Deb