One Punch Man, original publication vs. revised manga
P**fectionism Isn’t Your Problem
When they tell you to “be yourself” or “just have fun”, they’re really saying “lower your standards”. Fuck them.
“Perfectionist” is a slur. It’s a dirty word that psyches people out: “Why do I lack confidence? Do I have enough emotional maturity to make great things?” Of course you do – you just need practice. But instead they encourage you to “not be so serious”. They’re wrong. There’s nothing wrong with your head. Practice obsessively and deliberately until you consistently make things worth making.
P**fectionists have tastes that exceed their skills. You can’t control your taste, but you can control your skill-level.
“Getting Your Shit Together”
To earn skills that match your tastes, do deliberate studies. More specifically, prefer doing studies over studying. “Reading about painting” is not painting.
Practicing is a skill that demands practice. Through consistent effort, one develops the ability to allocate time for ambitions. Colloquially, this meta-skill is called “getting your shit together”. If there were a manual for it, many chapters would cover the art of saying “no”. The pursuit of ambition calls for cancelling Netflix, neglecting friends, sobering up, going to bed early, etc. Yeah, protecting your time and energy is boring.
Beginners study best by emulation. Copy things you like until you don’t need source material.
Don’t become King of the Bunny Hill. Practice at the edge of your comfort zone.
Don’t confuse sloth with p**fectionism. It’s easy to say you have high standards. It’s easy to say you’re afraid of failure. But it’s hard to admit you lack enough grit to learn something worthwhile. Few are willing to trade comfort for greatness.
Your journey begins with that yearn to learn. Until then, cast off the weight of your magnum opus. Shelve your Big Idea until you’re ready. Your works will grow as you do.
Intermediate p**fectionists frustrate themselves with inconsistent output. Quality varies. Projects crawl. “If only I had more time…”
Time to celebrate! These feelings indicate that you’ve developed “slow skills”.
That you can do anything at all means you’ve developed a skill. But muscle memory lags behind your mental models. Your next step is to bake the steps deep into your brain.
You’ve internalized quality, so now practice speed.
Speed is artificial confidence. Leave no time for doubt.
Speed draws out the essence of a craft. It distills decision-making into its simplest components.
Speed multiplies attempts. Getting better faster makes you get fast better, and vice versa. Feedback loops and such – blah blah blah.
Until mastery is inevitable, hone instincts via structured workshops, daily challenges, short prompts/puzzles, etc.
Masters who make quick+quality work may still struggle with choosing/prioritizing/finishing projects.
Symptomatic p**fectionists at high skill-levels may have time and ability, but never seem to complete anything worthwhile.
Here are some suggestions for chronic incompletionists:
- Choose a deeper subspecialty. One Punch Man’s author decided to become a great storyteller rather than a great artist. By choosing a narrow identity, he became a worldwide phenomenon.
- Find an editor or agent or employer. Vested interests figure out how to extract value.
- Give up. If projects make you miserable, stop being so ambitious. It’s okay to be unexceptional. It’s okay to be a normal person for a while and then die with the rest of us.
- Serialize your project. Release your work in chapters with a service like leanpub. Public accountability maintains momentum.
- Join a team. Pair with friends and/or hire out the “boring” stuff. What essential ingredients could you add to a team?
- Inspiration is farcical. Good artists synthesize inspiration from discpline.
- Give your Big Idea away. Sometimes sitting on a goldmine isn’t worth its wait in gold. Help somebody else reify your grand vision.
- Embrace constraints. Do physically smaller projects. Can you complete your idea on a tiny canvas, small quantity of pages, 140 characters, etc? Study oblique strategies.
- Study optimal stopping. Consider tools like the secretary problem and the Bellman equation.
- Do playtests. Create a low-res version of your idea (e.g. copy the Breath of the Wild prototype) if you don’t really understand your work yet. Start with the soul of the thing.
- Put it on the calendar. Put yourself in ship-or-die situations before you’re actually ready, e.g. book your recital before you know the song.
- Face the truth. Maybe your idea actually sucks, and you’re pretending not to know. Remember, nobody will ever tell you if your idea sucks. They’ll coyly say, “I’m not sure I get it” or “wow, sounds interesting”.