When Is Good Enough, Good Enough?

I was having a conversation with a fellow writer the other day when he asked “Do you ever get worried that your writing might not be good enough?”

The question isn’t something that’s new to writers/authors. I think that self-doubt is something that just naturally comes when you are creating something and putting it out there for people to read/see/hear/etc.

Everyone has to work through this period of self-doubt in their own way. For me,    I had a moment after a read-through of The Cerberus Rebellion. I had written, revised, revised, sent to a beta-reader, revised, sent to my editor for a substantive edit, revised, sent to my editor for a line edit, and finally revised again.

I realized that at this time in my life, it wasn’t going to spontaneously improve itself out of thin air. The work is only going to be as good as the writer that I am today. But in a year? Two? Ten?

Exhibit A: CommonScape

This was one of the first pieces of writing that I posted on the internet. It was fanfiction crossing the worlds of Andromeda and Farscape. I first published it in April of 2003, nine years ago.

Reading through the 55,000 words of this fanfiction now, I see so much that could be better. The plotting, the characterization, the setting. And that was with two worlds that I didn’t even have to create for myself.

If I go further back, 15 years, to the notebooks that are stored in my basement, I find stories that wouldn’t even make it to the Save button before I erased and revised.

“You can’t please everyone.” It’s a phrase that everyone says. It’s very similar to “You can’t account for taste” which is something my dad has said since I was a little kid.

I came to the realization that you don’t need to worry about pleasing everyone. You need to worry about pleasing yourself and realize that at some point, your work isn’t going to get any better right now.

So when you start doubting yourself, realize that at some point you need to let your baby go.

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About Joshua K Johnson

Josh is the author of The Cerberus Rebellion and The Hydra Offensive, Gunpowder Fantasy novels set in the Griffins & Gunpowder universe. He is currently working on a new novel set in the same world as well as The Centaur Incursion, Book 3 in the existing series. He's married with a 5 yr old son and a 1 year old daughter, keeping him busy. He currently works and is a full-time student.

Posted on August 16, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. To me it’s the kind of thing that you’ll never see as perfect. People are their own worst critics, and I know even if a million people love my book, I’ll still be obsessing over the structure of this sentence, or the wording in paragraph two…

  2. I think the desire to keep editing, keep changing, keep striving towards perfection is the mark of a good writer. I also know (from plenty of experience) that, yes, you have to come to the point where you let go. Otherwise it’ll drive you completely insane. Learning WHEN to let go is…well, frankly, that’s the hardest part. ;D

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