Most of us, and especially those of us who engage in creative writing, have experienced this thought before. Oftentimes when looking back at something we’ve written, we are either ashamed or embarrassed by the quality of our work. It’s a similar sensation to hearing your voice on a recording; do I really sound like that? Did I really write that? There are countless times where I have written something then later crumpled it up and tossed it in the trash. I’m sure many people are familiar with this feeling. But why do we feel it, and what can we do about it?
When you get frustrated by this feeling, there are two important things to keep in mind. Firstly, being a critic of your own work is essential if you want to improve your writing craft. If you’re not satisfied with something you’ve written, chances are that the quality isn’t where it could be. We experience this sense of disappointment when we have certain expectations of what we want our ideas to look like on paper and they don’t come out sounding the way we’d like. Working on improving tone, language, flow, etc. will help you learn to think more creatively and produce better work over time. On the other hand, remember that we are usually our own worst critics, and that even if the quality of your writing isn’t where you want it to be, that doesn’t make it completely worthless. Trying to view your work as objectively as possible can help you see the value in it even when you are unsatisfied with it.
A simple and effective way to get a gauge on the quality of your work as well as get suggestions for improvement is by getting other (trusted) people to read it. I know that personally, when I don’t like something I’ve written, the last thing I want to do is have someone else read it – particularly if it’s something rather personal. However, this is the best way to get a more objective opinion on your writing as well as an alternative perspective on areas of improvement.
Remember that behind every successful author are a hundred sub-par drafts. Try not to get down on yourself, remember that good writing is a process, and it’s okay to be a work-in-progress.