Let’s play a little game, shall we?
Linda: I’ll take felicitous discoveries for a thousand.
Alex: I do have writing talent. Linda?
Linda: What is … What did I discover while editing?
If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you know I suffer from a lack of confidence in my writing ability. It’s largely self-inflicted. My inner critic prides herself in perfectionism. To make matters worse, she’s an expert at rationalizing away any praise that comes my way.
I think most of us lack confidence to some degree. We play that comparison game and believe we’ll never measure up. We get one tiny bit of negative feedback and blow it out of proportion until we see every word we’ve written as garbage. (Or is that just me?)
Today, as I edited my novel, I found myself smiling—grinning, to be honest. Not at any particular “darling” as in, My god, has there ever been a more brilliant metaphor?! No, I was happy because I could honestly say, “This is good writing.”
That may sound like I’m full of myself, but I’m not. What I discovered today is I suffer doubt most when I don’t read my work. When I set aside a work, whatever faults I know it has magnify in my mind until I convince myself I’m hopeless as a writer. I’m discouraged from even starting something new because, well—I can’t write!
When I finally open that file and start to read I see it’s not perfect. I find weak verbs, flabby sentences, bad syntax, but I also find decent writing as a whole. It’s never as bad as I imagined it to be. Yet I’ve allowed my doubt to waste time, fuel jealousy, and even downright depress me.
Why do we writers do this to ourselves?
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33 thoughts on “Ooo … ooo … I know this one!”
It’s a wonderful feeling, coming to a piece, holding my breath, and phew, it’s not that bad, no it’s ok, hey…this is good!
So happy to hear you say it, Linda!!!
It is, it is, Jennifer. 🙂
Glad that you are seeing your work as it is . . . and recognizing its worth.
Thank you, Nancy. I feel like a whole person. 😉
Even if I hear 35 compliments about my writing, the one negative remark will stand out among them all. That’s the one that gets all my attention. Shame on me!
I’m about to start editing/rewriting again. You’re very encouraging!
Oh gosh, V.V., I know that scenario. Are you a perfectionist too? I have a desire to please everyone, because that’s what you can do when you’re perfect, right? So that one negative comment means I’ve failed. Stupid! I guess it’s a good thing I’ve finally put things in perspective, considering this book will soon be subject to reviews, huh?
Notice how the gold outshines any bits of rock when you edit this time. 🙂
First, applause for looking at your writing again and realizing that you *are* a good writer. ::claps loudly::
One thing no one mentioned (probably because most of your followers are not – uh – vintage/boomer/geezer women) is how women of a certain age (that would be you and me) were taught back in the olden days of our childhoods to be self-effacing, self-deprecating, etc. and there’s still a bit of a carry-over, I think.
That’s changed somewhat in the past several decades, but it’s part of our baggage — part of mine, at least.
Thank you, Natasha.
Yes, that caution to be modest is part of my baggage too. It’s why I’ve really had to work on accepting a compliment instead of explaining it away. I guess the last person I needed to learn to accept them from was myself. 😉
I’m so glad to see you are in a good place about your work. We all torture ourselves. Who knows why?
Thank you, Cristina. Perfectionism?