You Can Be Perfect or You Can Be Happy: A Writer’s Reminder

Marisa Mohi
5 min readDec 19, 2022

I spent a lot of time trying to be a specific type of writer. I think it all started in undergrad, when I tried to write a specific thing for a grade. That behavior haunted me for a long time. Then I said to myself, “ You can be perfect or you can be happy.”

If you’ve never taken a college-level creative writing class, that might not make sense to you. But let me explain.

College-level creative writing isn’t just writing your feelings or making up a story. It’s looking at the whole literary canon and finding your place within it. It’s sayin something with your work, and saying it in a way that is uniquely your style.

Think about the harshest criticism you ever received from a college professor. Then, apply that criticism to a story that is an extension of you. Because that’s what writing is.

It can make you feel like the criticism is being applied to you, not your work. And regardless of where the criticism falls, it still stings.

That’s why I needed to learn that you can be perfect or you can be happy.

You Can Be Perfect or You Can Be Happy

It’s a platitude to say that nobody’s perfect. We know it to be true. But it’s hard to remember that sometimes.

Social media makes it seem like everyone has what you want. As a writer, I follow tons of writers and see their success seemingly play out in real time.

Sure, I don’t see the behind the scenes footage or watch them fail. Nobody posts that.

But I do read their books and see the amazing things they come up with. I get viscerally jealous when I read some of their work because I know I will never be that good.

I have to remind myself that these people aren’t perfect. I have to step back and remind myself that a lot of work went into their books. Everything good comes from taking imperfect action.

I have to remind myself that I’m no longer in that creative writing classroom, and that I’ll never be back there again.

I have to remind myself that I get to determine what I do as a writer these days. I don’t have to meet a standard set by a professor or the…

Marisa Mohi

Writer and Tarot Reader. Fueled by black coffee and notebooks with thick paper.