I'm curious if anyone else experiences this or has seen this happen to other writers. I'm trying to improve my writing, like everyone here, but my attempts seem to be making things worse. I have what I consider to be my strengths such as characterization, plot, sub-plots, etc. Well my stories and characters overall, I think, are good. I have a lot of good ideas. (Doesn't everyone think their ideas are good? ) My weaknesses, in my opinion, have more to do with my actual sentences. My descriptions need improvement, my sentence structure isn't varied enough, and I have a bad habit of re-using certain words over and over. I don't catch it until I read over my work and realize "Wow, I used 'definitely' three times in that one paragraph." It's these little things within the sentences and the paragraphs that need work. The bigger aspects of the overall story, I feel, are golden. It's all these darn little sentences that connect the bigger aspects that are screwing everything up. I should mention I'm still in my first draft, so I'm not even sure if I should be worrying about all this stuff just yet, but I am. So here I am trying to re-write my sentences so they have better rhythm and more variety. I'm also trying to include better descriptions, better metaphors, and so forth - And it's ruining it! It's messing with the flow of things. My somewhat poorly written/meh/okay paragraphs sound about ten times worse after I've revised them and ramped things up. They sound lame. They sound like I'm trying too hard. Which I am. I'm consciously working at it whereas before I was just writing. It just flowed. The stuff flowing out didn't sound all that wonderful, but it came out naturally. Now that it's not coming out naturally and I'm instead putting actual work and thought into how my sentences sound, it's mucking up everything. As you can imagine, this is very discouraging. Lots of people on this site say that you can improve your writing if you put work into it, but that's not working for me. What comes out of me naturally isn't spectacular by any means, but it's better than what's coming out of me when I actually try. It dawned on me that maybe it wasn't just me who had this issue because I've read some other writers' works that seem to scream "Trying too hard!" And what advice does one give them? Don't try so hard? Should I stop trying? If I stop trying, how will I improve? Do I need to try even harder? Do I not try but keep writing and hope that magically over time my writing will get better without me thinking about it? I don't know. I'm at a loss. Any advice would be helpful. I think writing might be sort of like walking. You walk without thinking about it, and you do fine. However, when you actually start consciously thinking about each step, the placement of each foot, how high you lift your leg, and so forth, you start to walk all weird. Over-thinking can be a bad thing. The problem is how can you improve if putting thought into it isn't the solution?