Image source: Flickr CC / dmelchordiaz
We all have conditions under which we work best. Personally, I’m a total silence type of person, but other people find that their best work is created while they listen to upbeat music. And while studies may seek to prove that one method is better than another, we are different people who work better in different environments - it’s as simple as that. There’s no right or wrong way to work.
…or is there?
To best answer this question, we need to first look at how we judge our own work. In order to judge our own work, we look at it from many different angles - the idea, the process, and the end result. When it’s our own work, it’s nearly impossible to separate these facets as they are combined to make up the work as a whole. We can have a great idea, but if the process or end result isn’t stellar, we find it hard to recognize the work as 'good work'. Alternatively, we can have half-hearted ideas or lazy processes, but have a great end result. In this case, it’s tempting to call it 'good work', but we still can’t separate the process from that final piece.
You see what I’m getting at? Whether our process (i.e., how we choose to work) and end result is good, bad, right, or wrong is totally subjective. And not only is it totally subjective, but that subjectivity is entirely on us - we are the only ones who can decide if our work is good or not.
So now that we’ve established that we alone are responsible for judging whether our work is good or not, let me make another assumption. I am going to assume that you want your writing to be good. Wait, no - you want your writing to be great!
We all do! And based on what we talked about before, we have all the power we need to make it so.
Good news, right?
If you’re sitting there thinking about the latest thing you wrote, and feeling like it’s less than ideal, let me let you in on a little secret. Producing great work isn’t just about producing something that others rave about, it’s also about feeling good about what you’re putting out there. It’s believing in yourself, in your creative process, and in your work.
Sure, creating something that others love and want to talk about is wonderful, but for most writers it’s certainly not the only reason we write. We write because it’s something that we love, something that is therapeutic in many ways. We write because we can’t imagine not writing. Believing in ourselves and our writing is just as much a part of that creative process as writing the words down on a page. It’s necessary for creating our best work.
Let’s take a look at it from a reader’s perspective. Have you ever read a blog or piece of writing where the writer just didn't seem confident in what they were saying? Either they weren't well educated on the subject, it wasn't a subject they were passionate about, or maybe they were just writing to put something out there without truly caring about the impact it could make. Whatever the case may be, a lack of confidence from the creator is often easy to spot as a reader. And when you don't feel like the creator is confident in their work, it's difficult to connect with them through their creation.
Whether you believe that our actions mold our beliefs or our beliefs mould our actions, one thing is for certain - in order to expect others to appreciate and enjoy our work, we must first learn to appreciate and enjoy it ourselves. When you truly appreciate the work that you create, you'll find that you lose that overbearing feeling of perfectionism or feeling like you need to change and tweak things all the time. You reach a place of comfort and acceptance of your work that allows you to really thrive in your creativity.
One quote in particular that I always come back to is from Ken Jeong. He said, “You can have all the tools in the world but if you don't genuinely believe in yourself, it's useless.”
Can I get an amen?
If you’re still not quite sure how to really, truly, wholeheartedly believe in the work that you create and your creative process, here are a few strategies:
1. Accept and become comfortable with a certain level of imperfection
If you sit around nit-picking your writing all day, you’re never going to reach a point where it’s exactly as you want it. There’s a wall that you build against yourself when you aim for perfection. Recognize that what you create is flawed and within those flaws lies a very beautiful human aspect that can only come from someone who believes in their work and loves what they create.
2. Decide what it is about your writing that keeps you from truly believing in it
When you know what it is that holds you back from believing in your work, there is a much higher level of understanding. Once you know these things and understand the reasoning behind them, it's much easier to implement effective strategies to change or fix those habits. It may be something as simple as your writing process or how you formulate ideas, but whatever you need to adjust in order to believe in your work/process is well worth your effort.
3. Only create things that you enjoy the process of creating
Part of believing strongly in your work is actually enjoying the process that accompanies it. If you don't enjoy the process, you likely won't appreciate the end result. Simple. If you don't enjoy the process right off, however - don't get discouraged. You wouldn't be the first writer who didn't love writing right away! What you should do though, is find a point in the process that you do very much enjoy and the rest will come in time. If you don't enjoy any of the process of what you create, perhaps it's time to look elsewhere.
It’s not about whether how you work is right or wrong. It’s not about whether your work is good or bad by any conventional standards. It’s about following what you’re most passionate about, believing in what you create (whether others like it or not), and finding joy in each step along the way. When you can do this, you will create your very best work.
Megan Johnson is the creator of TipsyWriter.com and LiveTipsy.com, and the founder of social marketing company, Inspekt. When not writing, you can find her reading, playing with her dog, or seeking out the nearest adventure. She currently resides in San Francisco, California.
Sam van Zweden was Writers Bloc’s Online Editor from 2013 - 2015. A Melbourne-based writer and blogger, her work has appeared in The Big Issue, Voiceworks, Tincture Journal, Page seventeen, and others. She’s passionate about creative nonfiction and cross stitch. She tweets @samvanzweden.