please shut up about hating your own work

by - 8/05/2017



"Wow," you say, "Aimee seems like the worst. This seems slightly mean to me. Aimee needs to chill." 

The joke would be on you, here, because I've never been chill about anything in my life and this is just one more example of that. With that no-chill in mind, here's today's topic summed up:

I don't want to hear about how much you hate your own writing. i don't want to hear about how much you hate yourself and your personality, either, for that matter.

Me being the person that I am, I spend a lot of time on the interwebs. Mostly Twitter, where all the cool writer-folk hang out and talk about their writing. Twitter is a great place to observe writers in their natural habitat. You can watch them talk about how hard writing is, about their characters, about how they can't find motivation, and, more than anything, about how trash they think their work and their story is. A lot of that. You find this reflected in other areas, too -- we like to reblog all those relatable posts about how #trash we are, and how much we hate ourselves, and how we Need To Stop, and how miserable and lazy we are compared to other people. The internet is a great place but unfortunately, it's a perfect place for people to air their insecurities, relate to other insecurities, and wallow in them. 

I hate this. 

I hate a lot of things in this world but this is one of the internet things I really truly despise. 

I say this, of course, as someone who spends 80% of their waking life (and most of their sleeping life) in a caffeine-fueled haze of creativity or trying to be creative, working on one thing or another. I have a lot of loathing for the words that come out of my brain and how they don't match up to the images in my head. I have insecurities, and doubts, and fears, and frustrations when things don't turn out the way I want them to. But more and more I've been attempting to keep that to myself and work through it, and you know what? That's making me a happier artist. 

I don't care if it's just a #relatable meme. I don't care if that's how you really feel. (I've been there. I'm there right now.) It doesn't matter. If you tell yourself something enough times, and if all you broadcast to the world is how much you hate your writing and your story and it's just a mess and you're no good, that's what you're going to start to believe 100% of the time.

The more you tell yourself something, the truer it becomes. The more it sticks in your head. What you tell yourself, and what you tell the world, is eventually going to end up defining you a lot more than you might have thought. I know this. I'm still working on this and I suck at it. But I'm tired of a culture that normalizes thinking you and your work are trash and talking about how much you hate your own writing, because it's also a culture that makes me feel weird about being proud of the things I create, and it really isn't until recently that I realized how stupid that is. It's utterly ridiculous that as creators our first instinct is to retweet self-loathing writer memes and preface everything with "I know this probably sucks but" instead of thinking about what that's saying to everyone else. We're erasing the importance of confidence, the importance of being proud of what you're doing, which raises the question, if you hate your work so much, why are you doing it in the first place? 

My outlook on art and the things I write/create changed hugely when I realized that I'm allowed to write it, I'm allowed to look at that chapter I just put on the page and think dang, this story is a good and compelling one. I became happier and more confident in everything I write when I gave myself permission to talk about how much I love the story I'm currently writing, and how I can see the potential in the thing that I'm creating even if the words aren't flawless yet. I have a podcast out right now, and that wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been able to look at it and think wow, this is good, and I want other people to hear it, because it's good. It's beyond strange to me that we've created an environment where broadcasting your hate for your writing is more normal than actually...y'know...believing in it. 

Pause here for me to say that I don't think I need to tell you that there's a difference between believing in and being confident about what you're creating and being arrogant, believing it's flawless and bulletproof and the best. Real confidence, in my mind, actually, is the ability to look at the work you've just made and say "this isn't perfect, this has flaws and it's not done yet, but it's good anyway."

What you say about your work matters. What you say over and over about it matters. Yes, there are some funny #writermemes out there, and I sound like a killjoy saying this, but if that's what you're going to relate to and tell yourself over and over, that's what you're going to believe. 

You're making this thing for a reason. 

If you're doing it for a reason, stick to that. Be confident in it.


Why should people care about a book you've written if all you ever talk about is how hard it is and how stupid it is and how much you loathe it? Regardless of our inner feelings and insecurities -- which will always exist -- we have the ability to tell ourselves something different. We have the ability to sell our work to people. To be proud of it. You're doing this for a reason, I assume. If you believe in that reason, you don't need to hide it under a layer of self-hate. 

You need to shut up, and you need to write it, and you need to allow yourself to talk about what you like about it instead of everything you hate. 

Or better yet, you should just shut up about it period and let your work do the talking.


- Aimee

You May Also Like

34 Comments

  1. This is awesome, Aimee! Go you. :) I can't say that I have ever "hated" my writing, but I have expressed insecurities before, especially to my family at home. Most of this has come from outside pressures, people expecting me to be someone I'm not, to write things that aren't *me*. Recently, though, I have been learning not to succumb to those pressures and to instead focus on loving what I do and what I create. <3

    Also, just gonna add how much I appreciate you pointing fingers at Twitter. :P I love Twitter, but also it is the epicenter of all bad writing advice, ever.

    I really enjoyed your post, and I can't wait to read more of what you create here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "focus on loving what I do and what I create" EXACTLY. And yeah...Twitter is pretty much the worst.

      Delete
  2. Thank you for writing this post, Aimee!! I write a lot of bad stuff (don't we all), and I can usually recognize when it's bad. BUT, when I do write something excellent, it's so hard for me to say, "Yeah, I like this; this is good" because it's an unspoken rule that we can't enjoy our own work. So thank you for this post. *all the applause*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure why we've made it forbidden to actually admit that we've done something good, or that we like what we're doing, but it's upsetting to me. :P

      Delete
  3. Whoa.

    Thank you so much for this, Aimee. <3 (mind if I write a post with the same idea of not hating on our work so much? I wouldn't really be copying you, but I wanted to ask since your post sparked the idea for me xD)

    ~ Savannah | Scattered Scribblings

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is great. Thanks fir reminding me that it's okay to say that my first draft is good, even if it's not perfect. :D

    ReplyDelete
  5. YEEES. It's one thing to say that you're having trouble with your book or wanting to take a step back, but it's another thing to use either situation to bash something that IS SUCH AN ACCOMPLISHMENT. I'm always encouraged at the thought of how many people start books but never finish them. If we could all just see that simply finishing writing something (not to mention even venturing to edit) is such an awesome thing all by itself...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! We have SUCH a hard time admitting when we've accomplished something, and when we do admit it we like to try to deflect ("well, it's still a mess but...") and I'm not quite sure why that's a thing.

      Delete
  6. This is definitely calling me out xD

    Though I don't really post my writing insecurities online much. Recently, I chatted with a blogging friend and I decided that I was going to take her advice and just start writing any important scene I need to write next. After recently reading a book I really liked, I decided that I like short chapters so I'll try to shorten my chapters. I need to keep reminding myself that I'm writing a first draft after all.

    I'm also taking notes on writing advice from bloggers I follow and will be checking up on them every now and then.


    THANK YOU FOR THIS! <3

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yesyesyesyesyes this is a fabulous post and I love how polite you are in the title xD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know me, always doing my best to be positive and cheerful...

      Delete
  8. Yess this is so important. To be honest, I've spent a lot of time feeling like this. Despising myself and everything I do and say. I've struggled with that for years, and sometimes when you're having a bad day with your work, brain, etc. it's incredibly easy to retreat into the destructive temporary solace of the self-deprecating meme side of the Internet and complain about your projects with hundreds of other people who feel the same. It's only recently that I've really found myself fighting that. It's unhealthy on so many levels, you know? Hating your work keeps you from making progress or improving or realizing your goals and dreams. Ranting about it with people just makes it worse for everyone, even those who don't necessarily feel that way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh it's such a huge internet thing and I feel like it wrecks us most of the time.

      Delete
  9. Great post! I'd love to know why we writers do this to ourselves. Why? And if we can't answer that, then it's well-past time to stop.

    ReplyDelete
  10. you've hit a nail on the head with this one. *claps*

    ReplyDelete
  11. "Aimee needs to chill."

    The joke would be on you, here, because I've never been chill about anything in my life" << ME XD

    But seriously, thank you for this. Today has been really hard and goodness I needed to read this. I love your posts so much. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *sends all the encouragement, chocolate, etc*

      Delete
  12. I AM LITERALLY SCREAMING AND AIR-PUNCHING AND SO FKSJDKLJSALKJKLDJ HAPPY YOU SHARED THIS AND WROTE THIS AND THANK!!! YOU!! SO!! MUCH!!! <<< seriously yours is the only blog that I get so PUMPED UP reading and I JUST WANT TO SHOUT MY AGREEMENT FROM THE ROOFTOPS OK?????? OK <333

    THIS IS FLAWLESS. LIKe seriously wow I needed this so much and like EVERY SINGLE OTHER PERSON IN THE WORLD NEEDS THIS. I WANT YOUR WORDS PAINTED ON BUILDINGS AND BROADCAST ACROSS SOCIAL MEDIA AND ALL OVER THE WORLD ASAP

    I especially love what you said about confidence!! How it isn't true confidence to just be arrogant about your thing and be like "this is the greatest ever bc I'm the greatest ever" < more often than not, the people who say stuff like that are actually super insecure. (And I know because I have that fault too, of becoming prideful and cocky when I feel insecure.) But real confidence is being cool with your thing not being perfect and finding the willingness to make it better and better. Seeing room for improvement.

    OKAY NOW I'M RANTING BUT I JUST WANT TO SCREAM ABOUT HOW GREAT THIS POST IS FOR THE REST OF ETERNITY CAN I???? <3 THANK YOU FOR THIS!!!!

    rock on!
    abbiee

    ReplyDelete
  13. YESSSSSS. AMEN. Just...THIS POST IS EVERYTHING.

    We do live in a culture where we encourage...discouragement. Like whyyy??? It doesn't even make SENSE. Why are we making self-loathing and calling ourselves #trash FUNNY and RELATABLE? There's enough hate in this world, we shouldn't be dishing it on OURSELVES. We WILL start believing it if we say it enough. And, as you said, if you hate your work so much why are you doing it in the first place?

    This post was pure gold. I LOVED what you said about being arrogant vs. confident. That's something I think about a LOT. It's an important issue that gets askew most of the time. And you just summed it up flawlessly.

    I JUST LOVED THIS POST OKAY. THANK YOU FOR WRITING IT! <333

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree with you, Christine!! I think we make ourselves feel better by making #writerstruggles and then finding people who have those same struggles. So then we can just wallow in "the struggle is real" and say that we're just "trying to find inspiration" and all that crap. I think Aimee's right: we need to stop talking trash about ourselves, admit that our writing doesn't always completely suck, and realize that we have good story ideas that aren't actually that bad. And yes, thank you Aimee for reminding us all that arrogance is not confidence. It's something I try to remember.

      Delete
    2. Thank you so much! I think a lot of it honestly is us looking for validation -- we want people to tell us we're not trash, you know? Or we want to find people talking about all the misery too so we can wallow together. It's a lot harder to fake it till you make it and keep on going even when it's hard.

      Delete
  14. That last line, really hit me. I think I will just do that.

    ReplyDelete
  15. You are right.

    There's the thing about humility. Too often when someone says my writing is good I find myself saying, "nah. It's pretty bad. I find it rather 'meh'". That is a pretense at humility. Humility is not only taking the criticism and correction when it comes, but accepting the praise when it is due. Because acting humble by saying, "my work is bad" is just being too proud of your fake humility. Ah... am I making any sense?

    Too often I come across characters who are like, "I'm not pretty. I'm not special. I'm ordinary. I have no talents. Why do you like me so much?" Why? One can't use ones talents if one DOES NOT RECOGNIZE THEM. Someone once said, "humility isn't thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yohrself less."

    What am I even talking about anymore? This post was about... not hating your work. Right. Got it. And you know what? This post was SO good. Because I think it goes as much for any area in life just as it goes for writing.

    Thanks Aimee. Great new place you have here (and the website too).

    Lisa
    thisinkwell.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  16. Just yes to this. Yes, yes, and yes. You, fren, are amazing <3

    ReplyDelete

tell me stuff!