Dave Barry on How to Cope With Post-Pulitzer Prize Situational Perfectionism

Situational perfectionism is when something causes your perfectionism to spike. It can be a failure, of course, but it can also be a success. Here’s J.K. Rowling, quoted in Salon:

“For the first time ever in my life, I got writer’s block. The stakes seemed to have gone up a lot, and I attracted a lot of publicity in Britain for which I was utterly unprepared.”

Turns out humorist Dave Barry got into a similar fix after winning the Pulitzer Prize:

“I had this feeling like, You know, jeez, does this mean that I’m still allowed to write stupid columns? Because my column won in the distinguished commentary category. No one had ever called my writing “distinguished.” So I wrestled with my first columns after winning.” (From And Here’s the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on Their Craft, by Mike Sacks.)

(Also an example of how labels and arbitrary categorizations can screw you up. Save them for your marketing–and even then, don’t take them too seriously. Just take your writing at face value.)

You’ll be happy to know that Barry’s first post-Pulitzer column was about how his dog kept eating lizards and throwing them up.

Nothing like tackling perfectionism head-on.


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