I think a lot of us writers feel like Monsieur Flaubert (in his quote on the left). We’ve all read good books, we know what good writing ought to look like, and we know our writing does not match up.
I kept letting this frustrate me, till the day I realized the writing in a book comes from a writer who is not just talented, but who has written for years before getting to the level I see. Besides, the manuscript most probably went through quite a bit of editing and polishing before it hit print.
I realized what I come up with is my best at that moment, and that there is a possibility, however slim, that it would get better, with deliberate practice. Ira Glass puts it so much better than me:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
Do you think your own good taste has frustrated you as a writer at some point?