I recently finished a story for an important project, the longest I have ever written. I edited it in small parts so I did not have to read through the whole thing. Now, whenever I try to read it, I start cringing so hard I feel like disappearing into a cave for the rest of this century. This is quite a problem, as I would like to pursue writing as a career. How would you suggest getting around such debilitating self-doubt?
Self-Doubt, Revision, and the Inevitable Self-Cringe
I feel this. I feel this so much. I struggled with this problem for years, to the point which it affected by grades because I sometimes couldn’t even reread my essays so I was pretty much handing in draft 1.5 (I do not recommend this. Do not do this.)
Give yourself some time away from your writing. Allow yourself to forget about the details, about your painstaking word choices. Come back to your story as a reader and you might end up thinking, “Hey, this isn’t as bad as I remember. It needs a bit of polish but I’m loving this,” because if you’re writing what you love, then you should love it.
Get positive feedback. You’ll always look upon your own work with a more critical eye, so do manuscript swaps with a trusted writing buddy, and shamelessly remind them to note down things about your manuscript that they like. When they ask you how thick-skinned you are, be honest. Don’t get me wrong, you will need constructive critique to improve, but too-harsh criticism can do more harm than good if you’re not ready for it.
Power through. Sometimes, you will just need to read through all that cringe. Take notes as you read, write in the margins, fix things, do whatever makes you more comfortable. Tell yourself that you’re doing this to improve your writing, and with every revision, you will cringe a little less.
There’s no overnight solution for this. It takes time to slowly But remember, with every word you write, your writing will improve, and one day, you will love what you write.