1. theEnglishMage

    theEnglishMage New Member

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    I've found myself liking my writing, is this bad?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by theEnglishMage, Feb 7, 2017.

    I read a quote from Anne Enright that bothers me. She says that "Only bad writers think that their work is really good." I don't completely agree with this. I'm not completely satisfied by what I am working on, but I am enjoying myself. Is this bad and why?
     
  2. Dnaiel

    Dnaiel Senior Member

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    I don't know if there's any context to her statement, but I wouldn't put any weight on such a heavy generalization.

    I love my writing. And I bet a lot of great writers lover theirs, too.
     
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  3. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I mean, the Dunning-Kruger effect is a thing, and certainly I can look back on my writing history and tell that in times that I thought my writing was the shit, it was sometimes actually just shit. But that's not always the case. I don't agree with it either. It's important to acknowledge what you're doing right, even when your work is very much a work in process, and it's okay to feel good about those things. I think we can warn against arrogance and stagnation without saying "You're not a good writer unless you feel shitty about your work".
     
  4. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    It's dandy to enjoy yourself and to be pleased with your creations and admire them fondly. I think that the danger is in thinking that you're the very, very best and that you have little or nothing to learn. I can, for example, admire my sewing fondly while seeing six dozen things I could do better.

    It's a little bit harder to do that with writing--it's so easy to make changes with writing (as opposed to spending the evening ripping out six linear feet of topstitching and doing it all again only to discover that it's even more wobbly the second time), that you tend to have the illusion that it's as good as it can be. So you need to remind yourself, despite evidence, that even though you love this thing you wrote, you enjoyed it, you admire it--even though all those things are true, it could probably be a whole lot better, and that you will work to develop the skills that would have made it better.
     
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  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Yep. You're cuckoo.... kidding.
     
  6. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    Nothing wrong with liking your writing. Hopefully you're writing stories that you'd want to find on the shelf if you hadn't written them yourself.

    One concern might be if you get so satisfied that you're not open to legitimate criticism, and you're not open to stretching your writing skills, and become unwilling to try something new.
     
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  7. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Seriously? I thought I came up with that :D

    ... Anyway, the version I came up with was "What do you call a writer who always thinks that her first drafts are good enough? A bad writer."

    First drafts are supposed to suck, but second drafts are supposed to suck less, and third drafts are supposed to be pretty good.

    If you're absolutely certain that you're over-stating your writing ability and need to bring yourself down to Earth to see the problems you need to fix: Beta Readers :cool: You get 3-4 of those looking at your draft, trust me, you're going to find the problems you missed the first time.

    Like misspelling the title :ohno: True story. I once sent a draft with "ANYTHNG FOR YOU" at the top.

    I literally couldn't spell anything right :rofl:

    Anywy, here's the most important litmus test you can give yourself: if you love a story because you love the fact that you wrote it, then it's probably not a good story.

    If you love a story so much that you wish somebody else had written it first so that you could be reading it right now ;) then it's probably a good story.
     
  8. ChaseTheSun

    ChaseTheSun Senior Member

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    It's the difference between looking in the mirror and being content and comfortable with the way you look, or strutting around like a peacock thinking you're the most gorgeous human to grace the planet.

    It's the difference between looking in the mirror and being honest about what isn't quite as you'd like it, or crawling back into bed and moaning that you're the ugliest creature you've ever seen and should be shot this second.

    As in everything, if you are being realistic and balanced in your assessment, it's fair to assume you're okay!

    I look back on some of the writing I produced a few years ago and think, "My god. I don't know what I had back then, but I wish I had it now." I can honestly say that some stories I wrote in 2014 were genuinely good pieces of art, to which I compare my more recent writing with a fair dose of befuddled disappointment.

    Don't limit yourself with false humility. Be honest and celebrate your skill! But continue to strive to get better, always!
     
  9. ChaseTheSun

    ChaseTheSun Senior Member

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    I like this!
     
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  10. Silent Lion

    Silent Lion Active Member

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    I think everyone's summed it up.
    Beta readers are great.
    Enjoying your work is an important part of learning. It lets you latch on to the positive aspects of your style that you want to keep and encourage. The trick is being good at spotting the weaknesses without denting your sense of achievement with the strengths. THAT's hard.
     
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  11. Mocheo Timo

    Mocheo Timo Senior Member

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    IMO the problem with this liking/disliking your writing is comparison.
    When we try to rate a skill such as writing, it's hard not to compare with others.
    In my case at least, I get very happy when people I know say my writing is good.
    I know I need to be careful though, since most of these people are not writers or at least don't aim for the same quality of writing which I'm trying to achieve.
    On the other hand, knowing that I can write at least better than average, is a form of motivation for me to continue writing and eventually improving with practice.
     
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  12. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I wish we could move away from this need to call writers or writing "good" and "bad".

    I prefer "effective" or "not effective", and I think the only way to know if your work is effective is to set a goal and then see if your writing can meet that goal. If you want your writing to be therapeutic, want to enjoy the process, etc. and you find it therapeutic, enjoyable, etc., then your writing is effective. If you want to publish in a certain milieu and you get published as planned, then your work is effective. If you want to set the literary world on fire and you do, then your work is effective. "Good" and "bad" as absolute terms seems like a pointless dichotomy to me, especially in a field as subjective as creative writing.

    So if you like your writing and your goal is to like your writing, then, yay! You've met your goal! But if your goal is something else, something that involves someone else liking your writing, then you liking it doesn't really mean much one way or another. You need to see if someone else likes it, and take it from there.
     
  13. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You SHOULD like your writing. However, you should also never lose sight that any writing can be better, and that even the greatest writers ;esvr steaming piles of poo in their writing.

    Like your writing, but don't blindly adore it.
     
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  14. Anna100

    Anna100 Active Member

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    I don't think artists/creators give themselves enough praise. I wish I liked my work (not just writing, but painting too) more than I do. Some confidence can go a long way. But critique is necessary for progress too.
     
  15. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    That was actually one of my favorite parts of Stephen King's memoir On Writing: seeing how much his – Stephen King's – first draft of 1408 sucked compared to the final version I've always loved.
     
  16. Greenwood

    Greenwood Active Member

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    I think its perfectly fine to like your own writing. When you can be proud of yourself from time to time, it motivates and pushes you on. There is a big difference between liking what you do, staying critical and noticing yourself improving, or blindly believing yourself to be the next best. Like with all things, when one never compares own work with that of others, and one starts to believe that it is the best, there is no material for reference, nothing that contradicts that belief, and this in turn makes one repeat the same mistakes over and over. The first example spurs motivation and self-critisism, and in turn, growth. The second hampers growth. I sometimes pat myself on the shoulder for crafting a nice sentence. Then again, I often hate myself for my tendency to unconsciously say the same thing twice, or looking over blatantly obvious SPAG errors 100 times in a row. Stay focused, stay writing! Once you get enough feedback and develop an objective insight into your own writing, theres nothing wrong with recognising the points in which you excel, and exploiting them while working on other, perhaps underdeveloped points. All of us have their strong and weaker sides. As long as we realise this, progression is sure to follow!:agreed:
     
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  17. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Banned Contributor

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    I love my writing. I'm my favorite author. I also know that my opinion is not to be trusted. Most people like my work a lot less than I do. I have lost credibility.
     
  18. Mental Landscaper

    Mental Landscaper New Member

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    She's absolutely right. You should never like your writing, or even enjoy the act of writing for that matter.
    TRUE writers like myself maintain a constant level of misery by deliberately ruining our lives. The best writing comes from REAL experiences and REAL conflict, so I burned down my house and live out of a box in an alley like the narrator in City of Glass by Paul Auster. The only music I listen to is the sound of industrial machinery because it represents the cruel, unforgiving march of technological progress and the loss of our rustic innocence as a species. I eat nutritious, flavourless gruel seasoned with expensive spices because the gruel represents how meaningless the act of eating is despite being romanticised as an important cultural and social event, and the spices represent moral decay through decadence and a selfish focus on indulging our senses instead of finding meaning in the world.

    If you don't hate yourself and everything you do, you're not living the literary lifestyle.

    I'm kidding.
     
  19. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    Meanwhile, to live the genre lifestyle, I've just shot myself into space in a tin can. See you terrestrial losers later.
     
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  20. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    The trick is to give yourself enough distance so you forget how/why you wrote the words you did. When you read immediately afterwards, you still remember the creative impulse that made you write it. You're seeing what you meant to write, rather than what you actually wrote.

    Read your stories from a year ago, and see how you feel.

    If you get sucked into the tale and forget, for a while, that you wrote it, then you'll REALLY like it—and for good reason. If all you can see are mistakes and grounds for improvement, then you know where you're actually at, in terms of your writing.
     
  21. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    If you didn't like it, then why bother writing it? That is the question.

    It is easier to do something that you enjoy, and have the freedom to
    shape and mold anyway you want. Than it is to do something that you
    find uninteresting.

    As for me I have a love/hate relationship with my own writings.

    You have to find your own feelings about your writings. :)
     
  22. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Contributor Contributor

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    I don't think that my work is "really good". It's a constant struggle to reach my self-definition of "acceptable".
    However, what keeps me writing is that once in a while, when I least expect it, I find a piece of my writing that I had forgotten all about and I think, "Wow, did I really write this? No way, this is too good to be mine." I'm surprised that it's indeed mine, and on some rare, very rare occasions, it was a first draft.
    So why don't I always write like that? Since I have no other explanation, I give the credit to the Muses. How else am I going to explain that I can write a piece of work that I still like twenty years later, but most of my first drafts are a nightmare? It's the same brain. Does it go on and off?
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
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  23. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    You need to think your work is good. Eventually. That's the key thing here. You shouldn't be so in love with your work that you think it's perfect and have a hard time cutting anything for any reason. But you should be aiming to get it eventually to the point where you feel really good about the writing. Remember, if you can't like your finished writing then no-one else will. That's really how you know that it's done; when it just feels good to you, when the writing clicks and you feel the right things and it feels like a good book. We do have to be careful about anointing ourselves as geniuses but just to like the finished product? No, that's totally fine. It's healthy to be critical, it's healthy to wonder if you could still make it better. It's healthy even to know that maybe this section is a little too long, that someone else might think that this scene could have been done a different way. That's fine. But if you read it and you like it then that's ok.

    In the end, if you don't like the finished product then it's not finished.

    Always an interesting question isn't it? In the end these things come and go. Sometimes you just stumble into the perfect turn of phrase. I have legitimately written single conversations that were twelve thousand words long because I just kept on writing them talking in circles on and on and on until I found the one line that hit it exactly on the head and then cut the rest. There's some craft stuff there, there's some talent and some luck too. Sometimes you need to iterate it and just keep on trying to get it right. Sometimes you just pluck it out of the air and it's exactly right. And sometimes you heard word earlier in the day that made you go yes.

    In the end the goal is the finished product. That is the single piece of advice I would give to anyone trying to write. It doesn't need to be good now. Right now it just needs to be written. Trust yourself that you can make it good eventually and just write it. And then come back and write it again, maybe once you've got a better line on how a character speaks or feels or thinks. Don't sit with one line and try to force it to be perfect. Just write it imperfectly and move on then come back and make it good later.
     
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  24. monica muasya

    monica muasya Banned

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    There is nothing wrong about liking your writing, it is just normal for you to appreciate what you do. The secret to been a successful writer is to love your own work, write with passion and let your writing inspire you so you can inspire other people who will read your work. Good writers are self made, love and appreciate what you do so that others can appreciate you.
     

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