“Once upon a time, in the dark forest of Sherwood lived a little wizard, a great-great descendant of Merlin. In a magic experiment that got out of hand, he was sent forward to modern Vietnam, where he met an unconventional scientist who fancied oddities…” And then the story unfolded. Together they would travel to different worlds, battle powerful frenemies and discover “the world of endless wonders” (term coined by Warehouse 13).
Sounds familiar? It was the beginning of a story I wrote during high shool, when my friends and I were all crazy over the “Harry Potter hype“. I would spend days and nights developing the plots, planning all the marvellous adventures and heart-wrenching twists. Then, I would pass my manuscript along to some of my childhood friends, and they kind of liked it.
But one day, I happened to realise how poorly written my story was. The writing style was childish, the structure was clumsy, and the plot was injected with all imaginable cliche. I felt ashamed just by reading my own words.
That moment, I decided to stop working on the story, and waited for the day I could tell my story in a perfectly crafted style. That day never came.
Today, I’m halfway through my 20s. My writing was better than yesterday, but far from perfection. A few weeks ago, one of my classmate revealed that she will have her first novel published by the end of the year. She has been working on it for seven years.
Seven years! That was about the time I gave up on my story. Had I kept working on it persistently, it would have become something by now. And even if the story was so poorly written that no one would read it, I would still learn something from the process.
This came as a revelation to me: I have been a victim of self-criticism. I have been too harsh on myself that I didn’t give my writing any chance to try, to fail and to grow. My self-criticism has done no good.
“Fear is at the root of most bad writing.”
The truth is well-spoken by Stephen King. To overcome your own self-criticism is essential for progress, not only in writing but also in most crafts. You can laugh at the authors of Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey, but at least they tried. And who knows, their next book may be better, as long as they keep writing?
Back to my story, I think I might revisit it in the near future. But first, let me bore you to death with my poorly written posts. On a weekly basis.