Do All Writers Hate Their Work?

Yesterday I completed a short story. I had spent two weeks agonising over the editing process and finally, as midnight approached, I sat back with a satisfied feeling that I had finally finished my story. I went to bed content that I had created something that wasn’t half bad.

When I woke up and re-read it on my Kindle app, the cold light of day hit. The well crafted and thought-out sentences were clunky and the story seemed a little dull and ill thought out. I felt embarrassed by my premature optimism.

This isn’t new though. It is the process many writers put themselves through to get the job done. Editing is an up hill struggle. You have to battle doubt and lack of motivation for starters.

I abandoned one short story because I wasn’t getting anywhere and moved on to another that I had better success with. Yet every time I read it through, I pick and pick and cringe. One minute I love it and a couple of hours later I hate it again.

Now I have decided to let it go. I’ve sent it to some family members who I trust to give an honest opinion and not just say it’s good because they want to be nice. Waiting for feedback is like waiting to hear back from a tutor grading an essay. This is a necessary part of editing and crucial when you have lost objectivity. For me, the writing is good when you don’t feel like you are consciously reading. With your own writing I don’t think you are able to get a sense of that.

Do all writers hate their work? Does they ever get that ‘good job, well done’ feeling and easily move on?

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love writing and it gives me a thrill whenever I start something new. But there is something tortuous about sharing something so personal that you pour your heart and soul into. This is probably why a lot of writers have a turbulent relationship with their work. Perfection is everything.

Either way, I’m going to keep working at it and strive to arrive at that point where I know that my work is the best that it can be.


6 thoughts on “Do All Writers Hate Their Work?

  1. Jae says:

    I think there will always be a part of any writer that wants to fix things, but I do think there comes a point where you must let a story go, imperfect as it may be. However, I felt like with this particular short story you spoke of, you may just be in the drafts stage. I went through all those feelings with my WIP, but I kept myself open to feedback and kept improving and it’s something still imperfect but that I’m certainly more proud of. You may just need to let it get a little colder or work on something else for a bit before you come back and work on it more. You’ll get there.

  2. Capri Montgomery says:

    Perfection cannot come from imperfect beings. There comes a point when you have to realize that you gave it your best, your all, and be willing to let go. You are right about stepping away for a bit and then coming back to the work. That really does help get clarity and also helps with editing.

    Great post by the way 🙂

  3. catherinelumb says:

    I agree. As writer’s we like creating new things, and we always feel that the creative process is ongoing. I think you get to a point sometimes when you’re editing a story over and over again and making the same changes over again – that’s why it’s handy to keep your drafts as part of the process. Once you start making the same edits you know it’s time to put it down and move on…
    Good luck with the feedback.
    Cat x

  4. Joe Owens says:

    Emma – You are correct, it is always a struggle to accept your work without the doubt creeping in. If you are interested their is something called the Sunday Critique Blog Hop where 250 words of your offering will be critiqued by other writers each Sunday.

    We writers all have doubts about the quality of our work. That is what keeps us humble and hungry for the perfect story. Sometimes you just need to let others give their opinion and take it for what it is.

  5. Sheila says:

    Yes. 🙂 It depends on my mood. On some days I’ll like a story and on other days I’ll think the same story is horrible. It helps to put it away for a while – maybe even months – so that you can look at it again with new eyes. Whenever I do that, I’m amazed by how many things need to be changed in a story that I had already revised probably hundreds of times over. It makes me think of a quote – that a painting is never really done, it just stops in interesting places. That seems to be true for stories too.

  6. Sarah Irving says:

    To some extent, yes. I can’t read my books without some sense of horror for at least six months after I finish them – fortunately that means by the time I have to do publicity readings etc I’ve come round to the idea that they aren’t totally horrible, although I still always spot things I’d like to change. The worst case I know is an eminent translator of fiction who almost can’t look at her work ever again…

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