I hate writing, I love having written.
– Dorothy Parker
We understand that experience as writers.
We stare at the pages of writing we did the night before. At the time, in the moment, we thought our writing was perfection. Now, in the light of day, the clunkiness echoes mockingly in our heads. Cliche intertwined with forced prose.
As if hoping for some relief, we open the nearest book, hoping to find something that will justify our disappointment. We are left deserted as perfect, simple words glare back up at us. We shut the book, self-hatred boiling to the surface, consuming us.
Why can’t I just get it right? Why can’t I just write the way I want to write, convey what I want to convey? How do I overcome the self-loathing rippling through me, as I contemplate deleting the words I wrote the night before, in an attempt to spark something better?
Nobody hates themselves, and their writing, more than the writer themselves. No matter how experienced you are in the written word, there are going to be times when you want nothing else than to close the manuscript and force your mind to go blank.
But that isn’t going to solve anything. You’ll only be left with a deeper sense of roiling anger as your writing is left to rot and fester and become staler.
So how do you overcome yourself?
Well, in simple terms, just get over yourself. The fact of the matter is that you’re going to hate your writing, especially your first drafts. If you’re truly happy with the words that fall straight from your unfettered mind to the page, then you should be concerned. A writer who thinks highly of his talent probably has none.
Acceptance is a powerful thing. Accept that you are going to have to revise your writing, countless times. Most writers can edit their work continuously, for eternity. There is always something to be improved, or changed. Is that what Hell is like for writers? A never-ending draft pile? Accept that you might never truly love every aspect of your writing: every word, sentence or paragraph. Accept that it will take time to understand what you loathe and what you love. And accept, that no matter how hard you try, you will never reach perfection.
Ways to overcome your self-loathing are simply to carry on and to ignore your doubts where they become too debilitating. Write, read and edit. Work, work, work. The best advice is simple.
They say that to be a writer is to have an extremely lonely existence. It is a life that is filled with self-doubt, denial and hard-work. But to writers, it’s the life that is only worth living. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
And so, maybe we have only ourselves to blame…