“No one sees the world exactly like you, and no one can articulate it in quite the same way.”
– Sean Platt, 10 Ways to Avoid Writing Insecurity
I made a terrible mistake the other day…
I let my sister-in-law read my latest story out loud. With every page she read, I cringed. The story, which was weeks away from being released, “sounded” to me like it needed a lot of revision. It didn’t seem like it was finished. As my sister-in-law continued to read, I heard vagueness, unorganized thoughts and a story that will never appeal to children. I sat in silence, uncomfortable silence.
My sister-in-law finished reading the story, looked at me and said, “What a great story!” Yet, in my mind…I was trying to figure out how to change most of the 32 pages! More importantly, I couldn’t believe I had missed all those mistakes.
Let’s face it, if you are a creative, someone prone to perfectionism and driving yourself slightly mad, then you are rarely, if ever, pleased with your work. It always feels incomplete, unfinished, and never quite good enough. And that’s okay. Heck, it’s even normal. But the truth is: You’re being way too hard on yourself.
If you’re new, or maybe not so new, to the creative process, then frustration is most likely a constant companion. When you’re just getting started, whether you make videos or write stories or design websites, you are regularly battling the voices of self-doubt.
They tell you that you have no business doing this, that you should stop before you embarrass yourself. And those voices are wrong.
The Reason Behind a Writer’s Insecurity
So, why do we do this to ourselves?
Because writers are perfectionists and creative. Quite frankly, each of us can’t help it. For in your mind, you see the writing project in its ideal form. But on paper, it will always seem like something’s missing…that something needs to be rewritten…that something doesn’t sound just “right.”
The “never good enough” feeling about your work is a dangerous place to be. This feeling can lead to despair, which can tempt you to quit. And that’s the one thing you CANNOT do, regardless of how much you think your work stinks!
Overcoming this feeling of not good enough would be easy if some depressed writer invented a “magic formula” to make it disappear. But, at the time of this writing, no one has found a cure.
I read a blog this week where one writer says that we should celebrate when we start feeling not good enough. He said when you feel this way about your writing, “it means you probably have good taste.” Now, that is a different spin on it!
Three Actions to Take When Your Work Doesn’t Match Your Expectations
First, give yourself grace.
Failure is a gift. It’s your ally. Take advantage of anonymity. Try things you wouldn’t dare to if you had a stadium full of fans (and, of course, critics).
Forgive yourself when you create a written Frankenstein (because you might). Laugh at yourself. This is all part of the process. It’s called “practice” for a reason. See it for what it is, and embrace this time of “not good enough” to get better.
Secondly, create anyway.
You’re creative because you love to create. Creativity is in every fiber of your body. So, do what you were made to do, do what you love and try to do it well.
But whatever you do, don’t wait. Don’t hold your work back from the world. If you keep creating and sharing what you’ve made, it will get better. I promise!
Finally, stop beating yourself up.
Be kind to yourself. Remember, this feeling of never feeling good enough is common. I’m not sure that it ever fully goes away. But as a creative, you have to learn how to deal with it, or it will destroy you.
At the same time, realize that not everyone feels this way. Not everyone is like you. Consider this: your feeling of dissatisfaction may, in fact, be a gift, if you can see it that way and learn to manage it.
So, let’s move forward.
How do you deal with this feeling that your writing is not good enough?