Self-Criticism, Creativity and Being a Pretentious Jerk

This blog is a bit like a time capsule filled with self loathing. I know this because any time I’ve engaged in any form of self expression, it’s ended with me looking back on it later and groaning in disgust about how I’m a sanctimonious asshat who pretends she has more knowledge than she actually does. Sometimes this effect takes only minutes, depending on the level of pretentiousness my writing reached.

Writing is the act of freezing yourself in time. The problem is that I’ve never liked photos of myself much and they’re essentially the same thing. A snapshot of a person, especially one when they’re yelling at the camera operator for taking the photo, is never the best representation of who they are as a person. The same is true for writing. Me writing at 10, 16, 20, 24 and 27 are all vastly different from one another. At ten years old I think I largely concerned myself with writing Sailor Moon fanfiction. Suffice to say, I think I’ve moved on slightly. I have no doubt that given a few more years, I’ll find my current writing as cringe-worthy as I find those short skirted adventures I penned all that time ago. This is why despite my ambition to write a novel, I doubt I ever will. By the time I finish a section and edit it to my satisfaction, I’ve gotten older and find the writing a painful reflection of my previous lack of skill and experience which I have since slightly improved upon. Perhaps on my death bed I will at last pen an ode worthy of the literature I pretend to aspire to (don’t believe it – I’d totally write porn if it paid the bills), but in the mean time I’m left in an odd limbo.

I wonder if this is a common problem. Do others out there find themselves similarly dissuaded from projects? Is this how perfectionists (a species with whom I share little commonality with) feel all the time? God I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
So what is the solution to overcoming the fear of the inevitable self judgment?
Simple.
Stop taking yourself so damn seriously.
I write because I enjoy it and occasionally other people say they enjoy reading the nonsense I come up with (ironic because they certainly never say this of the babbling I verbalise in person rather than on paper). I write because sometimes I just don’t understand myself at all and sometimes putting it on paper helps with that. I write because sometimes in my struggle to actually get myself, I help other people get themselves better. I write because sometimes it helps people overcome that insurmountable wall I put up to stop people knowing the first damn thing about what’s going on in my head. I write because it makes me laugh. I write because I like making others laugh too.
So what if ten years from now I wince in self deprecation? Hi future me. Wipe that look off your face will you? You’ll wrinkle your forehead (even more) and you’ve already aged terribly.
The fact is that present me likes it. So be damned with your judgement and perfectionism. Just remember that all this babbling is just practice. I’m honing your skills so one day you might actually get there and you’re welcome.
You are and always will be your own worst critic. Never let that stop you from putting yourself out there in the first place. And that, friends, is my two cents of pompous “wisdom” for the day.

16 thoughts on “Self-Criticism, Creativity and Being a Pretentious Jerk

  1. LOL, I do enjoy the babbling you verbalise in person too. I do this with my writing too. At uni, I looked at my literature review for my PhD I did 6 months into my candidature and cringed at nearly every poorly constructed sentence. I don’t even know how my supervisors even passed me haha. And with blog posts, sometimes I go back and edit specific sentences because they make me sound so stupid! You’re probably right in saying that no one else picks up on this as much as yourself, but the ‘perfectionist’ in me can’t stand it!

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  2. ‘You are and always will be your own worst critic. Never let that stop you from putting yourself out there in the first place’

    I love that line. I am so hard on my self, I constantly criticise my blog stuff, my photos, and we haven’t even started on uni and just me in general! I know that in reality everything I do is generally ok, but I want it to be so much better… Sometimes we just have to stop being so critical and appreciate the good things we do. It’s one of the hardest things to do though…

    Laura || http://www.thelifeoflaura.com.au xx

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  3. I can somewhat relate, which is probably why I don’t do many personal posts on my blog. The only personal ones I’ve done are about my upcoming wedding which I think are somewhat sickly sappy… Part of my doesn’t want to post about it but then part of me does so I can look back and remember either with pride and happiness or with disgust and eye rolling. haha!!

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  4. Loved this post! I am often so self critical and I think I hold myself back because of that thinking but I am definitely trying to break down the barrier and just relax and do it. After all, what do I have to lose?

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  5. Very good advice. I read an interview with Stephen King who pretty much said the same thing, even about some of his most famous and successful books. So it definitely happens to a lot of people!

    Kate | themintedblog.com

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  6. You are such a good writer, totally loved reading this and can relate to many things. I am hard on myself most of the times and constantly need to remind myself sometimes to let some things go and stop being harsh on myself.

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