Promisses No. 8: Your Own Worst Critic

I’ve been writing, and it’s scary.

I mean, I’m always writing, of course, but I’ve been writing in a way that I really hadn’t been for several years. It’s fiction, this thing I’m doing. The kind that’s pompously, idiotically dubbed “literary fiction,” I guess you’d call it (it’s all “literary,” in my opinion, any given piece of writing, if there’s any shred of creativity or artistic expression in it at all), which just means it doesn’t have a plot that moves enough to apply any other genre to it, unless and until it takes one on as it goes along.

I have my doubts as to whether it’ll ever be publishable (or whether I’ll want it to be), but it’s a thing that’s important to me to write, personally, about some stuff I’ve been through. It’s therapeutic. And, who knows? Maybe it will be A Thing, someday. It could happen. The point is that I’m doing it because I want to and feel like I need to, and (for now) I’m committed to it. I’ve set, and so far (four or five days in) kept, a relatively modest goal of 500 words a day. (And I’m sure that I’ll be flexible on that, in the future, as I inevitably need it.)

And each night, at about 300 words in (and often several other times before and after), I come to the fully supportable and almost certainly correct conclusion that this thing I am writing is The Worst Thing That Has Ever Been Written. I still occasionally get that with my other writing, too; it’s just a part of the process. That feeling nearly convinced me not to publish last Friday’s post on women and tattoos, which, whether it’s a good post or a bad one, ended up being the most-viewed post in this blog’s short history nearly twice over (if you’re curious, and you’re not, the previous leader was my inaugural “Beauty of a Woman” post). I’ll often have to find a way to trick myself into sending a baseball article, which I’ve fussed over for hours already and which is the kind of thing I’ve written hundreds of times before, finally hitting that “send” button to my editors so abruptly and almost impulsively that I sometimes won’t even realize that I’ve actually finally forced myself to stop fretting and send it. I’ll probably edit this ten times before morning, and who cares about this? It’s just part of being a writer. Or at least, it’s a part of being me, writing.

That, the nagging worry, is a pretty significant impediment to my progress on this…novel or whatever it is, but I push through it. Eventually, that is — maybe after playing five games of Bejeweled Blitz and opening up four new Gchat windows and trying with limited success to start some big dumb conversation/fight on Twitter and watching an episode of Dr. Who — I do finally push through it. And I get to the end of my planned 500 words (or 600 or 1000 of them) and glance back over what I’ve done, and you know what? Well, it might not be good, per se, I’ll never be convinced it’s ever going to be anything good, but it won’t be nearly as awful as I thought it might be while I was in the middle of it. Never once has been.

Promisses missed you terribly last week, and today reminds you (me) to turn off that nagging dread and worry in your (my) already overcrowded, tiny little brain.

Own Worst Critic

Fist-bump to my lovely wife for the initial suggestion on this one.

Loveliest of Fridays and weekends.

6 thoughts on “Promisses No. 8: Your Own Worst Critic

  1. “What if I sucked? What if I thought something was good, but it was actually garbage?”

    This is something I highlighted from Wil Wheaton’s Sunken Treasure that made me think I might have been separated at birth from the dude.

    (Which would be weird, since he is quite a few years older, and slightly less ethnic.)

    Wait, what was I talking about?

    Oh yeah, thinking what we do is garbage. I go through this whenever I write. The novel I did publish – I cringe at parts. Readers loved it, and I STILL doubt myself.

    If it’s any consolation, I’ve rarely read something from a writer who loves their own work (and boy, they do exist) and agreed with them. A little doubt seems like a good thing. 🙂

    • Haha. Ooh, I should check that book out.

      I really think everybody who writes goes through periods like that…everyone I’ve ever talked to about writing does, anyway. Maybe more for us INFPs. 😉

      I hear you on that last bit…I came across one guy who clearly loves his own work, and, man. All his little two-sentence blurbs had some egregious error in them. I suppose if you don’t have a little bit of self-doubt, you’re probably not thinking hard enough.

  2. I dig the honesty in this post. As Amber said, a little doubt can be positive. It shows that we care, and aren’t “too big for our britches.” Gone too far, though, it can be stifling. Sadly, I think that happens to many artists. We have to enjoy and believe in what we’re doing so much that worry can’t halt us, IMHO. Confidence grows over time, I’ve found, but it continually ebbs and flows in the humble and sensitive (#FCOTD)—both of which, you are. We’ll probably always have “I SUCK!” days.

    I love that Dove Promiss/hit. 😉 Another bump for YLW!

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