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Do you spend hours, days, even years writing, rewriting, and editing your manuscript—only to ultimately toss it in the trash (or hit “delete”)? At Writer’s Relief, we know sometimes it’s hard for writers to put down the red pen and be convinced that their writing is “good enough,” even when it’s really great! But if you’re filled with self-doubt and too critical of yourself and your writing, you’ll never submit your work for publication. Here’s how to know when you’re being too hard on yourself—so you can stop procrastinating and start submitting your writing!
5 Sneaky Ways Writers Are Their Own Worst Enemies
Avoiding risks. Of course you feel safest in your comfort zone. After all, why take a chance on something new and risk creating a complete flop? Fear of failure can stop you from trying something different. But remember, some of the world’s best discoveries were the result of someone taking a risk—and that applies to your writing as well! When you find yourself asking should I?—try answering with a Yes! You might be pleasantly surprised with the results.
Comparing yourself to other writers. Writers often compare their poetry, short stories, or book to the works of peers or famous authors. And that can be a good thing! It’s always smart to read the work of other writers and learn from them. But if you compare yourself to a bestselling author and find yourself lacking, this could backfire and hurt your self-esteem: My writing isn’t as good as Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Maya Angelou, Shakespeare, or (insert famous name here)!
Well, remember this: The world doesn’t need another Stephen King—it already has one (and one is enough…shudder!) And readers don’t want another wannabe; they want something new. Refine your own voice and you’ll soon find the readers who are interested in your unique way of writing. As Oscar Wilde once said: Be yourself; everyone else is taken. Here’s how you can build your confidence.
Never asking for advice when you’re stuck. When you write yourself into a corner or get a wicked case of full-blown writer’s block, you may be convinced you’re the only person who can get you out of it. But asking for help doesn’t mean you lack the skills to fix your writing. Finding a friend, family member, or beta reader to impartially review your work and offer ideas and suggestions can help unstick your creative wheels and get them turning again. Seeing your work from someone else’s perspective may provide ideas and inspiration you never would have considered on your own.
Fixating on the problem instead of the solution. It’s so easy to see the flaws—real or imagined—in your own work. And you may spend all your time dwelling on your perceived shortcomings rather than determining how to fix them and move on. Find ways to “put a period” on those cycling thoughts with such things as meditation or distraction, and you may find that the solutions come to you. And after you’ve ohmmed and ahhhed, you can also check out these self-editing tips that will make you a better writer instantly.
Not recognizing your own achievements. You won a poetry writing contest, or had a few stories published in literary journals, or an agent has shown interest in your book, or you hit your word count goal for the week—woohoo! These are reasons to pat yourself on the back, do your happy dance, and celebrate! But some writers have trouble acknowledging good news and focus all their attention on rejections and criticisms. Take time to celebrate your accomplishment, even if it’s simply meeting a writing deadline you’ve set for yourself. Solving a seemingly unsolvable problem is a great achievement, so be sure to reward yourself! It doesn’t have to be extravagant: Go for a walk in your favorite park, see the latest movie, or even just take a snack break.
Whatever way you’ve caught yourself being overly critical of your own writing, keep in mind: If you never finish writing, you’ll never be able to submit your work. Don’t use procrastination to avoid rejection. Finish writing and send out submissions—you just may be surprised at the results!
Question: When it comes to writing, in what way are you sometimes your own worst enemy?