I’ve lately started participating in more writing challenges and events as a way to draw in more traffic, invite more feedback, and meet other great writers from around the web. I’ve submitted a few short stories that have attracted a fair bit of praise, and that’s led me to grapple with a feeling that I’m sure all writers have faced.
What if this is it? What if I’ve already done my best work? Maybe that little horror story or that funny poem is the very height of my storytelling abilities. Anything I do from here on out will just be a sad attempt to match that. Any attempt to better that might just leave me out of my depth, revealing to the world that I’m not a good writer, but just some dude tapping away on his computer, hitting all the right keystrokes occasionally.
Damn, that was melodramatic. Okay, so it won’t be quite so bad. I’m sure there are people who’ll like my future endeavors just fine. But the problem is, you see, I’m an overthinker. So whenever I write a story, I constantly question if it’s good enough. There’s a lot of my work that I’m not entirely satisfied with. But there are certain gems in my collection, stories that I’m proud of for one reason or another. I just hope they’re not the only ones to look back on in the future.
Praise is also a double-edged sword for me. I love it when people enjoy my work, or it speaks to them on some level. It’s a real confidence booster. But….I also feel pressured to deliver on that level again. My next work has to be at least as good, though ideally better, than the last. It makes me second guess myself and can hamper my writing process, letting doubts creep in over a piece that might be fine as it is, and forcing unnecessary changes upon it.
Fortunately, that hasn’t been a major issue so far. I haven’t completely butchered a story to please some unseen critic. I’m just hoping that as I wade deeper into the waters of writing challenges and critique groups, I’ll be able to keep my head afloat.