Reflection: You Are Your Own Worst Critic

For this week’s reflection post, I want to discuss an idea that is very important for writers to keep in mind, but something that I struggle with greatly: the idea that you are your own worst critic.  There comes a time when I begin to think my writing’s no good, or begin to fear that the readers will hate the story.

In general, I, like many other writers, find myself unsatisfied with my work a lot.  I tend to slow down, or even stop when I begin to think like that.  This is a problem.  Many times, I’ve put stories on hold for days, even weeks, or abandoned them entirely, because I didn’t think they were any good.  Other times, I simply was reluctant to share them.

But at the same time, I’ve reluctantly shared some stories that I thought weren’t that good, and the people who read them ended up really liking them.  Thus, I can’t take myself too seriously when I begin to think the story’s no good.

In this case, I do not always find myself practicing what I preach.  I am paranoid by nature, and a bit of a pessimist.  I can’t help but fear the worst.

However, while being too much of a critic may be a bad thing, there are many places where such thoughts may actually be constructive.  Some self-criticism is necessary so I know what parts of the story I should revise or rewrite to improve the story.  I shouldn’t simply dismiss all my self-criticism as me being my own worst critic.  But there is a difference in feeling that the story is no good versus feeling that the story could be better if I did something differently.

Of course, even this can get out of hand.  No story is perfect; it could always be better if I made a few changes.  While some perfectionism is good, I have to remember Rule #2: only fools refuse anything short of perfection.  I eventually have to decide it’s good enough and stop criticizing myself, or I’ll never be able to publish it.

As for the general idea that a story’s no good, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: no story is universally bad and unanimously hated by everybody.  Even the worst of the worst will have some small group of readers who enjoyed it.  The story deserves to be finished for their sake.

I think that not publishing a story because I don’t think it’s good is just selfish.  I’d be denying any potential fans the ability to enjoy the story and be positively influenced by it.  Even if it’s only going to be one person, think about publishing it for the sake of that one.

Though I’m probably being a bit of a hypocrite by saying this when I have not published Swogprille, Valleyville, and a few of my other projects.  Just to let you know, I do plan to publish these eventually, in some form, but not until I’ve given them a bit more review.

Though I’ll admit I do sometimes feel like I am being too much of a critic with these two series.  As Swogprille was my main project for almost a decade, I want it done right, and I’ve been struggling to revise it to a form where I am satisfied with it.  Like I said, this is a concept I often have trouble following myself.

Yeah, so I’d best be signing off.  White Rakogis has a holiday to prepare for.


One thought on “Reflection: You Are Your Own Worst Critic

  1. Pingback: Reflection: Getting Stuck, and Unstuck | White Rakogis's Lair

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