Even if you never listen to any other thing I have to say, please listen to this:
Stop disparaging your work.
No matter what form it takes, prefacing your work with phrases like, “This sucks; This is probably bad; I’m not a good writer/artist/creator but I did this anyway,” is a two-edged knife and both sides are lethal.
On the one hand, putting yourself down rots away not only any self-esteem you do have, but any you might be trying to build. If the most constant voice in your life – your own – tells you you’re awful, you’ll never be any good, why bother when so-and-so is ‘better’ or such-and-such is ‘more popular’ guess what? You’ll start believing that voice. And, chances are, you’ll stop creating anything at all, because why bother?
The other deadly edge of the knife is that if you’re putting work out there – and I see this all the time – with tags or artist’s/author’s notes that say, “This probably sucks,” or variants, many people won’t give it a chance. They will never even click the read more or the link that might let them make up their own minds because you’ve already told them it’s not worth their time. People are pretty susceptible to suggestion. If you start them off with the thought, “This is going to suck,” even those who do click that read more will be predisposed to see the flaws you’ve prepared them for and think poorly of your effort.
Stop disparaging your own work.
I know it’s hard. I do. Putting yourself out there where anyone can see and anyone can say anything is so terrifying. Creative work is personal. It often leaves us feeling particularly vulnerable. When we’re vulnerable and afraid of being hurt, we often get defensive even before anything bad has been said. A lot of the time, that defensiveness comes out as self-deprecation.
Nothing is ever perfect. Everything has flaws. That’s part of what makes each creation unique. Some people will love your work. Others won’t. That goes with the territory. Make art for the audience who’ll love you, not the ones who won’t. Above all – and I cannot stress this enough – make sure that you are part of that first audience. That starts by not putting yourself down in the instant you put yourself out there.
Creating work is challenging and scary and wonderful and brave. Letting other people see that work? Even more so. Keep working. Keep learning. Keep failing and trying and failing and trying; that’s the only way any of us learn and grow and change and get better.
But most of all? Stop putting yourself down. You deserve better than that. Yes. You do. You really, truly do.