I have a confession to make. I always hate what I’m writing, just a little bit.
I feel this way the most when starting to revise. I look back over my first draft and discover that the cool idea in my head just isn’t as strong on paper. The writing seems clunky. The characters feel paper thin. The setting looks cookie cutter. And the plot… well where did that go?
In the long past, this has usually been the point when my stories get pushed aside, but in recent years I’ve made some important discoveries. I know that not everything I write is going to be great. Some of it deserves to die a slow death on my hard drive. But not all of it is necessarily going to be crap either. Revision just takes a lot of thought and time. Typically, when I get to the obligatory “I hate this SO MUCH” phase, I decide to take a break, and come back when I’m feeling a little less judge-y. This is what happened with my Hansel and Gretel short story earlier in the week.
I have a feeling that this is a problem that a lot of writers have. I remember watching South Park: 6 Days To Air on Netflix a while back. I would highly recommend checking this out if you’re interested in seeing the process behind making an animated show. While watching it, I was shocked to see creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone feel all of the feels that I might go through while writing a novel or short story. Only, of course, they go through it every week, which seems like total madness to me! Another nice takeaway happens at the end of the special, when Parker submits the episode to Comedy Central for the week. He admits the he wasn’t 100% impressed with it, but he knew that he could work on it for weeks and weeks and it would only get slightly better at the end. This reminded me a lot of writers (like myself until recently) that work and work on one project, or even a small piece of a project, over and over again, trying to make it perfect, but never move forward. There’s no such thing as a perfect novel. It’s important to try your best, but in the end you’re going to have to let it go, and see if it finds life out there.
So that’s why I’m okay with hating everything I write, but only if it’s just a little bit.