Overwriting Part III: Embracing the Incompleteness of Academic Work
Another Mindset to Mitigate Perfectionism
One of my favorite aspects of training Brazilian jiu-jitsu is that there is always something new to learn or a way to improve. I'll never know everything about the art; instead, I'm always growing. I would have probably stopped training if I had learned everything there was to know by the time I became a black belt. The lack of stimulation would have bored me. On the contrary, there is just as much to learn now as when I first started. That is what keeps me coming back week after week.
The related crafts of writing and knowledge production are similar to my jiu-jitsu practice. (Read more about my thoughts on martial arts and writing here and here.) We never arrive at knowing everything there is to know about our disciplines, and there are always ways to improve our writing. I doubt I would be an academic if this weren’t the case, and perhaps you wouldn’t either. It’s the quest to keep learning that fuels us. Embracing a mindset of incompleteness can even help mitigate the perfectionism that leads to overwriting.