This is based on a Stephen King article I talked about in “Everything You Need to Know.”
King states that to be a successful writer, you must be self-critical. Specifically, “If you haven’t marked up your manuscript a lot, you did a lazy job. Only God gets things right the first time. Don’t be a slob.”
Being self-critical can be a double edge sword. If you aren’t self-critical about your work, you really are being a fool. First drafts are first drafts for a reason. They are supposed to be messy and you are supposed to rework and revise what you write. At least you should if you want to put your best foot forward.
If you can’t be self-critical about your own work, make sure you have friends and/or family that will read your stuff and be honest with you. The “be honest” part is critical. If your test reader loves everything you do, they probably aren’t being critical and that won’t help you. If you are lucky enough to find a friend or family member who will offer you solid critical feedback, listen to them and incorporate their suggestions.
There is a flip side to being self-critical. Sometimes writers, myself included, can be too self-critical. I’ve experienced times where I convince myself my work is horrible and not worth reading. I edit out the parts that are working along with the parts that aren’t until the entire file gets deleted. I have one “novel” I refuse to touch because it’s so bad. I like the premise of the story, but the execution was rough.
As hard as it might be, don’t let self-criticism entangle itself with self-doubt. This situation often leads to lost stories, less writing, and missed opportunities to share your work with others. Find other writers, whether virtually or locally, and form critique groups. This can help keep self-criticism and self-doubt separated and in check!