You are your own worst critic. At least, I know I am. Depending on the day, depending on my output, depending on so many tiny, fluctuating factors, my opinion on my work completely changes. I cycle through stages; one stage I’ll think my work is actually pretty okay, and that I just need to keep working; then the very next day I’ll swing to thinking my work is worst kind of shit and that I should just scrap it and do something else. It’s a thing that anyone who has created anything has experienced. Self doubt just comes with the territory of being a creator.
When I take a look at my own work, there’s always the temptation to really cut into myself. Sometimes, I just want to be honest with the world; I want to announce that I know the truth, that I get the joke, and I do, in fact, know just how much my work sucks. I see my flaws, and I want to acknowledge them so people don’t think I’m deluded or lying to myself. I know, guys! I really do!
For example, I used to be very unkind about my writing when discussing it with people in my real, day-to-day life. In some demented effort to protect myself, or rather, to beat others to the punch, I tried to play off my writing as a joke. “Oh, it’s just silly! I’m just doing it for fun! It doesn’t mean anything!”
But these days, I’ve been trying my best to stop, or at least keep it to myself… not only because that’s a fucking toxic thing to do to yourself (which is perhaps a story for another post), but also because I have an audience.
Let’s take an aside, dear reader, to imagine something. Imagine that you have a favourite book that you really, really like. Perhaps it’s changed you as a person, or you really related to the characters at that particular time in your life, or maybe you just had a really fun time reading it. Either way, this book means a lot to you.
Now imagine that the author of said book publicly stated that they thought that this particular book — the one you love so dearly — is terrible. It’s their worst work. It’s so old, and they’re embarassed of it. They don’t understand how anyone could read it, let alone like it.
Imagine, reader, how you would feel.
I can’t imagine anyone enjoys being told the things they like are terrible. I know most people, myself included, would react angrily if it were just some random person on the street or the Internet outright insulted something you love. But how would you react if it was the creator of said beloved work?
Would you feel crushed, cheated, or just as insulted — if not moreso — than if a stranger had said it? I know I would. This thing that you love, that meant so much to you, is something even its creator thinks is terrible. What recourse, or defense, would you have against that? Do they also think you’re just as terrible for liking it?
Basically, by insulting yourself and your own work, you’re insulting the fans — your fans — that enjoy it and support you. You’re saying their taste sucks. And after that, why would they want to be your fans?
Now, I should say, this is not advocating that you need to posture as the Best Author Ever™ everytime you talk about your work. Just be kinder to yourself… you’re learning, you’re trying, and you’re getting better everyday. No one starts off perfect. You can acknowledge that while still appreciating the people who enjoy your work now, for what it is. That way they’ll be there to watch and support you as you strive to be better.