Perfectionism is slowing me down!

I am a perfectionist.

I’m not sure when it started and it doesn’t look like it is going to end any time soon so I am just going to talk about it for a bit.

Let me throw a quote at you that I think is somewhat relevant to this topic:

“Art is never finished, only abandoned” –Leonardo Da Vinci

Whenever I set out to do anything (art, music, videos, this blog), I struggle with what I think is a desperate fear of failure. When I work up enough courage to actually start doing something, it feels great…for about 10 minutes. Then the perfectionist inside starts to criticise every single detail until the work before me becomes awful and I feel ashamed of how I can produce something so awful. Any attempts to fix the problems that I made up are useless because it only makes it worse. So I give up and throw it all away.

I started at least 3 blogs before I made this one, all deleted. I have tried about the same amount of YouTube channels, all deleted. None of the content I ever produced was ever good enough. I was boring, I looked silly, my username was never good enough. My attempts would last a couple of months before I scrapped it all. This need to be perfect has only stopped me from improving which is so frustrating. Not just that, but my fear of failing again is so strong that I don’t even try anymore. And that is just plain stupid.

When I made this blog, something changed. I still struggle every single day, and I really hate my blog, but I didn’t delete it. I want my content to be bad, I want to go off on tangents, and forget my point because that is me, because then I can learn and improve. I can’t express how anxious it makes me to have all these posts that I am not happy with, but if I don’t stick with it, then I really never will be good enough.

I want to use this blog to talk about my struggles. I think it helps to know someone else out there might know what you are going through.

If I have any advice for someone who is going through this, it would have to be stop fearing failure. Produce bad content! The only way to improve is to try, fail, and try again. Don’t do things to be good, do it because you love it. Something I’ve noticed – people like passion more than they like perfection.

I don’t want to be a prisoner to perfectionism anymore so, hopefully, we’ll be seeing a lot more bad content from me.

Unicorn cake

A more extensive look at the steps I took to make this cake. I completely made it up as I went along.

Check out the video I made of the process here!

To start, I drew out a quick sketch and added colour and annotations to say how I wanted it to look.

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I wanted a rainbow for the layers and silver icing in the middle to be like unicorn blood from Harry Potter. It was a good in theory but did not turn out so well in practice. The icing just turned a pale grey.

After I figured out all the details, I had to find a good vanilla cake recipe because all the cake recipes I have used in the past have ended up being crumbly and dry. I needed one that would hold up 7 layers. I found one from Gretchen’s Vegan Bakery. This recipe is the best cake I have ever had! Highly recommended!

So I had the plan and the cake, all I needed was the right sized cake tins, colour for the layers and icing, and fondant icing for the ears. I used regular fondant icing from Tesco. I knew that the colour would have to be strong and not too thin a liquid otherwise it would mess up the mixture (been there before with a red velvet cake). I opted for some gel food colouring from amazon which judging by the pictures, was decent quality. I also ordered 8-inch sandwich tin, silver gel colouring, and gold powder colouring. By this point, I decided to do a chocolate-filled ice cream cone for the horn, instead of icing, as it was easier and had a really cool pattern on it.

I had everything prepared so I waited for my birthday to come.

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I made the cake layers one mixture at a time so I wouldn’t have cake mixture sitting around with nowhere to put it. It worked out better that way because I had time to prepare the next thing and do some cleaning up.

As the cake layers were cooling, I made the “silver” icing (100g butter, 200g icing sugar, too much silver colouring which didn’t really make a difference) and melted a bit of jam. I put jam and icing on each layer, just enough to make it stick together, any more then the cake would have been unnecessarily sweet. I assembled the cake on a cake board on a Lazy Susan so it could spin while I was decorating it. Whatever icing didn’t go in the middle, I used to kind of cement any holes or breakage and left it overnight to set because decorating was another day of work.

To decorate, I started with a layer of white buttercream icing all around. To do that, I used about 100g TREX and 100g stork with 400g icing sugar (I may have put more, I didn’t really measure it), and a tiny bit of soya milk (possibly about a teaspoon). I used a palette knife to smooth it out, something I hadn’t done prior to this cake and it didn’t go spectacularly well.

Next, I melted some chocolate to fill up an ice cream cone, that I would use as the horn. I put a bamboo skewer through it and put it in the fridge. Once it was set, I covered the cone in some gold powder (which didn’t really come out very gold, unfortunately) and placed it in the middle of the top of the cake.

I then used royal icing to mould the ears and eyes. This was actually pretty fun because I like to sculpt. I broke off two bits of icing about the right size and cut off bits to make it into the right shape. Then, I smoothed out the surface and coloured the front bit with gold powder. I put a cocktail stick through them both and placed them next to the horn.

Finally, the hair. It was so hard and it didn’t come out the way I wanted it to, to be completely honest. But it still looked good so whatever. I made some buttercream icing (1 part margarine, 2 parts icing sugar) and mixed some colours in with it. I think I did 50g margarine to 100g icing sugar per colour. I put them into a piping syringe, like this one, and just piped some spirals all over the place. My hands were very tired by the end of it.

The final result:       20181030_214544.jpg20181030_214616.jpg20181030_214915

If you want me to keep making fun cake projects, be sure to like this post. If you have any ideas of what cake I could make next, or any other recipes you want me to try out, leave a comment below.

Farewell, until we meet again 😄