There’s a lot of truth in the phrase that someone can be their own worst enemy. It might be one of those stock phrases that sound awfully cliché when you use them, but it’s one of the few in that category that are cliché because they’re just so apt, and therefore overused. I mean, how else could you say it?
When it comes to writing, I’ve been accused of being my own worst enemy. It comes with a great list of things. Stubbornness. Inability to accept praise. Constantly believing that your writing isn’t good enough, or neither will it ever be. Out of those few, the one that stood out most for me was being unable to accept praise. As soon as someone gave me a positive comment, I’d immediately look for ways to disprove it. It sounds bizarre, but I’d write off people’s comments for the reason that I couldn’t accept the good things they said.
Considering receiving a positive comment is the thing writers crave; this all sounds crazy. I’m pretty sure I caused a few writing friends to bang their heads in frustration with me. In fact, in one case I know it. I was explicitly told.
Why would I choose to reject any positive comments? I think it was because I was never ready to believe in my writing; the idea that if I always thought it was rubbish, I’d never get my feelings hurt. I’d never get caught up in a few well-intentioned comments by friends, glossing over glaring errors because they wanted to be encouraging. Well, once you start going down that road, you start thinking everyone is sugar-coating, unless they’re being critical. Welcome to the world where nothing can possibly be good.
The question is, did any of you as writers slip into this mode of thought at some point? How did you get out of it? Or even if you didn’t, how do you keep yourself from becoming your own worst enemy? How do you keep that little voice in your head quiet?