Are you a perfection junky?

Do you agonize over every single detail of every part of the recording process?

One of my subscribers sent me this quote. (Thanks Evan!) It’s about the lie of perfectionism.

“We never tell ourselves, ‘The land of perfect is about a year away.’ We never think perfect is impossible. Perfect always glows from right around the corner. We just need a little more work, a little more time and we can share our work with the world.”

– Jon Acuff (from his book Quitter)

Does that quote resonate with you? Are you on an unending quest for perfection in your recordings, so much so that you stifle the very life out of the music you’re trying to create?

If so, please please PLEASE chill out.

I know you think you’re making the music better, but the truth is you’ll never create anything you’re happy with.

While everyone else is pumping out projects left and right, you’ll be sitting in your studio, “so close” to finishing your masterpiece.

Get out of the perfection mindset.

Once you have a finished song, record it. Mix it. Master it. Share it.

Rinse and repeat.

You’ll probably need to reach for a compressor at some point in that process. Learn the ropes here:

Joe Gilder

  • Xan

    Shit yeah. I once had a drummer in Beltane who seemed to think that taking forever to compleat a song guaranteed a superior song. WRONG. It actually made certain that these such songs were sprawling pieces ov musical *waank* with no real focus or arrangement.

    I believe the best songs pretty much write themselves because they are from that spiritual core/well inside ov us where creativity stems from.

  • Michael

    “Perfect imperfection”…something my wife said once. I’ve held onto that and made it one of my recording motto’s. Essentially, what we’re doing will always be imperfect, and it’s perfectly fine that it is.

    Trying to get a recording to the point of being perfect is impossible. Because by the time you get it packaged up and out for sale to the public you’ll find something else about it that didn’t meet the “perfect” qualification. Then you’ll be disappointed and talk crap about your own album. Folks really don’t like self-deprecation in artists.

    After my first album (as a solo artist) was finished and packaged I found that I didn’t like the sonic quality of the acoustic guitar in the overall recording; but I wasn’t about to go back and redo those tracks. Perfect imperfection. Although I’ve never settled on being 100% happy with that first album it doesn’t matter; more copies are selling now than in previous years. If the people buying the album can get past the imperfections then so can I.

    • I never thought of it, but you’re totally right. “Folks really don’t like self-deprecation in artists.”
      We THINK we’re being humble, but it’s really just annoying. Great points!
      I think your comment was absolutely perfect. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Mbray

    Your post reminded me to pass along what I think is the best book I have on songwriting, (and really the recording process as well) that essentially has the same theme, Karl Coryat and Nick Dobson’s “The Frustrated Songwriter’s Handbook”.ย  Karl also wrote a popular home recording guide, “Guerilla’s Guide to Home Recording”.ย 
    The book describes in great detail how Karl and Nick developed what they called the “20 Song Game” as a way of breaking down the barriers to productivity they had in themselves through what you descibe, the quest for perfectionism, etc.ย  There are tons of tips and tricks and inspirational ideas for escaping the constaints in our minds and actively creating music – I think a lot of the readers of your blog would enjoy it.
    All the best,


    • Thanks Mark! I’ll have to check those out.

  • Phil

    feeling the same at times ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I think someone should tell this to Dr. Dre so he’ll finish his long over due album haha ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Man this post resonated with me. I have the hardest time finishing something because there’s always this voice telling me, “Leave this song unfinished cuz you can add more stuff later and make it better”. Wrong! Thanks for the post man.


  • Andrew

    “The Quality goes in before the name goes on.”

    – Bruce Swedien and Michael Jackson