Your own worst critic.

Of all the experiences I had and things I learned during last year’s NaNoWriMo, one thing stood out to me the most. As I was plucking away at my very first novel, determined to become what I would consider a ‘real writer’ (my definition would change later) one of the NaNo’s in my region caught my attention.

Being naturally competitive, I was watching the word counts of everyone around me, trying to see how I sized up. I almost croaked when I came across a woman clocking over five thousand words a day.

Granted, you can write five thousand words in a single day. I’ve done ten thousand. But she was doing it consistently. Every single day. Before we even reached the halfway point her novel was complete.

But that wasn’t what struck me, because at the time I was a little disgusted that someone would churn out a novel in ten days. What struck me was the fact that as soon as December hit, literally the first of December, she had released aforementioned novel for sale on Amazon.

I sampled the novel for myself, out of sheer morbid curiosity, and was not surprised to find that it was exactly what you would expect from a book written in under a month. It wasn’t a long shot to say that she was absolutely deluding herself. There was no way more than a handful of people would ever be interested in reading what she had created.

So often, I hear writers or artists of other strains comfort themselves or their peers with the phrase ‘You’re your own worst critic.’

Well, I absolutely agree. I agree to the extent that you’re the worst critic you could possibly have. Not because you’re too hard on yourself, but because you make a terrible critic.

It isn’t much better to hate your work than to blindly create something and confidently release it without a second thought to quality. It’s the difference between the girl who spends three hours in the bathroom and still isn’t satisfied with herself and the guy in sweatpants who hasn’t showered in three days and is flirting with every girl he sees in the mall.

So when you create something, whether it be a novel, a song, or even a simple drawing, don’t go to one of the two extremes of either flaunting it to the world or hiding it in the darkest corners of your musty room. Look for people to criticize it. Look for people to truly tell you what is good and what is bad.

Because, shoving it into the world and hiding it away are both actions done out of fear. Fear of hearing what anyone has to say about it. Next time you create something, remember this: It isn’t very good, but it isn’t too bad, either. And then, use others to help you polish the good and toss out the bad.

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