Everything I Write is Junk!
I think writers come in two flavors: one assumes everything they write is worthy of publication and; the other is convinced that what they write is junk worthy only of being deleted.
The latter flavor is the subject of this post and the former is in a following post called Deathless Prose.
I get it. The voice in the back of your head is telling you, Why are you bothering to write? You really think you can turn out anything good? Who wants to read this anyhow? Been there, done that. What’s worse is that, in that moment, it feels like an eternal truth whose force will never diminish.
Worst of all, if you succumb to The Voice, it’s less likely you’ll continue to write. And a fresh and unique voice will be lost. (I know your Voice is saying, Fresh? Unique? Who is she kidding? Ignore and keep reading.)
Well, good news. First, you’re not alone. Many, if not most, writers experience this at one time or another. Second, my observation is that this state tends to be more common with new writers. Not always, of course, since it can also be a manifestation of writer’s block, but often. And that’s good news because if you keep writing—which is what you want to do anyhow—the feeling will fade.
Having said that, however, it’s a difficult period and the following might help.
Strategies to combat believing your writing is junk
No money back guarantee but one or more of these might help.
Difference between craft and worthless. If Your Voice is like mine, it takes a pretty blanket approach. Not only will you never get better but it applies to all aspects of your writing.
But in fact, that isn’t true. Writing consists of both creativity and craft (e.g. building tension, developing compelling characters, creating a continuous dream). So, especially if you are beginning, your ideas may be great but you need more practice on the craft side to get the ideas across effectively. All of which is learnable. Time-consuming but doable.
Launch many expendable pieces. You need to pour your heart and soul into this piece while holding the idea that it may or may not ever see the light of day. Not because it’s worthless, but because writing is about experimenting and not all experiments are going to work. So, be both committed to the writing and more relaxed about its eventual fate.
Reread later. If The Voice is being particularly insistent, put the piece aside for a bit—a week or so—and then read it again. Odds are, it’s got some real potential which you weren’t able to recognize because It was screaming in your head.
Ignore the evil demon. If all else fails, just ignore The Voice. Try a Scarlett O’Hara and promise to think about It another day. Just keep writing. And remember that it will probably go away eventually. Okay, may come back at some point as writer’s block, but at least it will stop being your constant companion. You can wait it out.