I’ve found that the writers I’ve met fall into two categories:
First, there are the brooders who think they’re no good. “I can’t stand what I’ve written! I refuse to look at it again. No one will buy this book, because I’m such a terrible writer!”
Then there are the egotists who think they can do no wrong. “This is a masterpiece! It’s the best book ever written! It’s sure to be a best seller and be made into a movie!”
You know where I’m going with this, right? That the truth is that there are some absolutely terrible and amazingly talented writers in each group?
Still, the problem comes in recognizing yourself if you fall into one of these categories, and then learning to take a step back and trying to view your own work objectively. That’s not easy.
It’s always difficult for any creative person to look at their own work and analyze it fairly. And that’s understandable. Your children are smarter, prettier, and more talented than everyone else’s children, right?
I, unfortunately, tend to fall into the second category too often. I finish a story and go “Wow! This is great! I can’t see any way to improve upon what I have just written!” I get all excited — and then I’m crushed when I receive rejection letters.
What has helped me is a good editor who can knock some sense into me from time to time and bring me back to earth. Usually the changes she suggests make me go “Now why didn’t I see that the first time?” (I’ve discussed how and why an editor is important before, by the way.)
It is important to have a healthy ego and be proud of your work. It’s what keeps you striving and happy, in my mind. I think many authors in that first group never get very far because they are not confident in their own work to promote it properly.
But at the same time, you have to know your limitations. I am perfectly aware that I am not a great writer — but I am very proud that I am a good writer! I can be proud of my characters and my plot twists and the way I keep my story moving while acknowledging that I am still learning the techniques to make it read even better.