It’s Good to Hate Your Own Writing

This essay explores why it's good to hate the stuff you write.

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When you first set out writing a new story, it can fill you with confidence that this is going to be the one, the best thing you’ve ever written. Then as you edit and revise, you keep going determined to iron out the creases, remove the boring stuff, make it better. On the day of submission you have a wobble, as you set the final pieces of grammar straight. This is boring, this is rubbish. You remind yourself these are last-minute nerves, a flutter of anxiety, you’ve felt them before and you’ll feel them many times again. It doesn’t matter now, what have you to lose, except perhaps a few quid? You’ve spent the time working on it already and you’re not going to get the time back. Press send.

You despise the story, good. This enables you now to move on to the next thing. If there’s a response, if you’re longlisted or shortlisted, receive a special mention, great. For now you can forget about it because you hate that story. The next time, you’re going to do something better, something less trivial, more important, more significant, something you hate a little bit less. Let’s get started immediately to prove we can do better and hate the result less.

Each time you write something this happens. Don’t worry, it’s natural. It doesn’t mean one thing or another. It doesn’t guarantee your story is good or bad, move on. All you can do is to keep completing stories and to keep hating them when they’re done.

There will come a time when you can read the stories at a greater distance and hopefully you’ll love or at least like them. For now your role is to keep writing stories, novels, poems, to the point of completion. And if you didn’t feel hate you wouldn’t know where that point of completion was.

The point of completion is where, love it or hate it, you feel you can’t do anything more to make a piece of writing feel finished.

Anthony Levings is a writer compelled by capturing moments in time and history.

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