But the problem comes when you stop seeing yourself as someone who is good (or great!) and trying to become even greater, and start seeing yourself as someone who cannot write a single good word on a page. When you hate everything you write, because nothing comes out exactly as you’d pictured it in your head. When you rewrite your ms seven times and revise it thirty-two more times and there’s still that one pivotal sentence that just will. not. sound. right no matter what you do because you are such a terrible writer and…
This is when you need to take a step back and cut yourself some slack. We spend so much time trying to improve that sometimes we forget we are improving. We become our own worst critics, and never feel like we’re getting it right. It’s good to want to improve yourself, but not if it’s going to take you over and make you miserable.
I find that it sometimes helps to look back at things I wrote years ago—or even more recently—and see how much I’ve grown. It puts things in perspective, and reminds me of how far I’ve come. Because you should never become so overwhelmed by your desire to perfect your craft that writing stops bringing any enjoyment. Life is stressful enough without creating more of it for yourself. And if you’re never having any fun, what’s the point?
*Since this is a blog by writers, I specified my focus, but the advice applies more broadly, too.