…WHAT THE HELL is that? Why do we read our writing over and think it is the latest bestseller in waiting and then upon re-reading it the next day, the text inspires nothing but disgust or at least disappointment? How can us writer’s have such conflicting views over the exact same piece of text? How can time do that when nothing has changed but our perspective?
Some explanations I can think of that are entirely unscientific:
- Familiarity breeds contempt.
- The feeling of finishing a piece of writing can overwhelm to such a degree that it dulls our critical edge, meaning when we re-read a story, we are judging it with clarity and a critical mind.
- Our mood. Being highly volatile entities our day to day biology can affect how we feel and think, perhaps skewing our perceptions. Feeling confident or down can also affect our outlook, meaning we can be biased in a positive or negative way.
- Creativity is itself prone to fits and bursts and in my experience more volatile than radioactive material.
- In my experience writing is the doubting disease. Until someone else reads what we have written and praises it, it holds no value beyond that which we attach to it. Whether supremely confident or self-doubting we all need positive feedback on our output, so if we are the only one appraising our work I think it becomes increasingly tough to measure how good or bad our writing is in real terms.
The most famous example of doubt I can think of is when Stephen King binned Carrie and if it wasn’t for his wife fishing it out, he wouldn’t have got his first publishing contract worth $400,000 (yep, back in the days that was actually possible for a first time novelist). Also check out Chuck Wendig’s incredible post on self-doubt.
What are your thoughts? Do experience the doubting disease?