On Being My Own Worst Critic

My writing hiatus had given me time to read old posts and take stock in my progress.  The original purpose of this blog was to regain the ability to write tight creative prose.  As I dissected each post, I realized the biggest problem wasn’t so much about finding the right action verb, or active tense or pithy adjective.  Something else has been getting in the way.

The problem is one of the pitfalls of introspective writing: how to discuss thoughts and feelings without talking so much about oneself.  I’m sure Dear Reader has encountered that writer whose navel gazing prose is so intense and relentless that it crosses the line between introspection and narcissism, leaving a bad taste.   I want posts to be at least interesting, not insufferable.

This worry has led to increasing self-consciousness.  How many “I’s” can I cut out and still make sense?  Was the story overstated in the haste to emphasis a point?  Did I understate something else?  Is it organized and flowing or babbling?   Do those words accurate reflect my thoughts?  What’s the point to this?

Having made a pact with myself not to rescind a post once it’s published, I then lapse into a heap of insecurity the instant I click the button.  Is it too personal?  Is it too much?   Will readers understand or is it simply more I, me and myself?  Then I anxiously watch for replies and realize it’s not as bad as envisioned.  Things didn’t blow up in my face; I avoided looking a fool.   And then I start drafting another post and the agonizing starts again.  I realize the self-consciousness and insecurity is caused by the vulnerability in revealing parts of myself, but it never gets any easier.

For these reasons, I’ve turned to closely reading blogger, Roger Ebert, the famous film critic.  He still critiques movies but now writes about everything from soup to nuts.  He’s a gifted writer with a simple elegant style and a penchant for just the right turn of phrase.  I’m reading him for not only the technical, expressive aspects of writing, but also for how he deals with posts that have backfired on him.  He treats these occasions as learning experiences, apologies,  clarifies or corrects and then moves on.  (For the creative side, I’m also reading Stephen King’s book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.)

So in essence I have to deal with the ongoing issues on the process of introspecive writing in addition to the techinical presentation and the topic being discussed.  Had this dawned on me at the beginning, I might have thought better of the whole experiment.  But I’m in for a penny, in for a pound, so the blog goes on.

John Thornton (Richard Armitage) has no choice but to be in for a pound in North & South; richardarmitagenet.com

8 thoughts on “On Being My Own Worst Critic

  1. My biggest hesitation about posting diary entries. Introspection is a bitch and too often boring, but you haven’t been at all — giving truth to the title of this piece. : DBTW, as someone who has not been much of a writer, I’ve found this book to be wonderful. I have a feeling this one may be pretty simplistic for you, but I love it. LOL! Read the Poynter blog religiously too.

    • Thanks for that link. Nothing is too simplistic. The moment I think nobody has anything to teach me is the moment I need to stop.And thanks so much the reassurance. You know we artists are sensitive about our shit. 😉

  2. I experience all the difficulties you point to here, esp because the writing I do on blog is so different from every other writing experience I have. To the extent that it works for me it’s because of editing. Do you have to say it twice? Can I take this out of the first person and still have it be meaningful? When do I have to have the first person? Like Frenz I don’t think you run into any difficulties here, but I understand the problem.And I’ve made at least two really serious mistakes that give me pause every time I hit publish … I think you have to take the risk, though.

    • The writing I do on the blog is almost nothing like the writing I do elsewhere. For the obvious reason that I can’t keep up that line of bullsh*t all the time. In the other writing I’m doing, there are times when I’m weeping so uncontrollably or laughing so maniacally that I can barely type. I suppose it’s a terrible thing to laugh at your own stuff, but oh well. Sometimes my kids will walk into a room where I’m doing this, and they will holler to the others, “Mom’s writing again.” LOL! I’m glad I can laugh about this, but it does take a lot out of me.However, my only regret is that it took me a long time to get started. I was the kid good in math, and I was never allowed to forget that. My brother was the writer, and to his credit, he’s an excellent writer. I just hate that I had it in my head for so many years that being good in math and writing were mutually exclusive. Intellectually I always knew they weren’t, but my heart dictated. Glad I had a heart change.Selfishly, I hope you both keep writing as I really enjoy it, and candidly, I’ve got so much going on that if it weren’t worth reading, I would blow it off.

      • You mean one can be good at both writing AND math (and science)? Nobody told me. I could have been a doctor! ;)May I ask what it is you write? Is it only for your personal enjoyment or public consumption?

    • Sigh, oh yes, editing. That is something that’s always been a problem, because I’m too impatient for the final product. Ideally there should be week between the first draft and the finally product, but how does one find the time, especially when doing a blog? Yes, I suppose if it’s worth the effort, it’s worth the risk.

      • At this point I really don’t know if it’s for public consumption. I’m writing about my father and his best friend. My mother makes some appearances as well, but mostly it’s about the two men. I am having a ball doing this. If I work up the nerve to let my SO read it, I might let others. I’m just not there yet.

        • It sounds interesting, especially if you’re cracking yourself up. As long as you enjoy the process, it doesn’t matter if anybody ever gets to read it.

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