In my mind, improving your craft is the greatest virtue among creators.
Whether you are struggling with your writing or whether you are talented, striving to become better is the single most important act a creator can make. Because, at the end of the day, it is the only thing we can control, to do our best and improve.
But you already knew this, didn’t you? Especially if you’ve read my last blog post.
But what if I told you that improving is not as straightforward as it seems?
We all know these essential steps to improve our writing: (1) You have to listen to criticism; (2) you have to write every day; (3) you have to read every day.
But, at a certain point, you will find yourself thinking that you are either the worst at what you do, or the best at what you do. It is natural to feel both, at times. However, there are inherent dangers in thinking like this, as well.
In the simplest terms; if you feel that you are the worst, you will not have the confidence to continue; and if you feel that you are the best, you will not seek out (or listen to) criticism.
But there is another pitfall one should watch out for, and that is: when you realise the rate you improve in, you may start to wonder, what is the point in posting anything? When you know that you can do better later?
Spare yourself the embracement, you know?
I’ve had this feeling towards my fantasy story and it has suffered because of it. I haven’t touched it in 6 months because I believe that I cannot do it justice yet…
I like to compare writing with roleplaying games. In essence, we level up as we go, and it takes longer to level up when we already are at a high level – when we are already experienced.
And when we are inexperienced, we level up more rapidly.
Imagine that you need 100 XP (experience points) to reach a new level, and when you’ve reached, let’s say, 99XP, you will feel that you have become as good as you can get before reaching the next level.
This is the sweet spot, and the optimal time to publish or post something because you will know that you have done your best. (Even though you will most likely find plenty to edit once you reach that next level.)
Comparably, if you post or publish something while gaining experience you’ll only feel frustrated since nothing you write will feel… right.
At this point, I don’t expect you to understand what I’m talking about since even I am having trouble putting it into words myself.
But what I want you to take away from this is to take comfort in the realisation that it is only when we feel that our writing is the greatest when we are ready to advance to the next level.
Hopefully, you will always look back at your older work and feel that you could do better.