How Being Less Critical of Yourself Leads to Success

A lot of writers suffer from one prominent behavior: being overly critical of themselves. In many cases, this has more to do with self-confidence and esteem than anything else. So, how do people get past this behavior to become successful?

The short answer is…it depends on the writer.

Every one of us has personality traits that are unique. And many of us have a hard time getting out of our own heads. But if we don’t, success is far more difficult to achieve.

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How Being Critical is Detrimental to Your Success

In a lot of cases, being overly critical is linked to impostor syndrome. This is when you don’t feel worthy of success or have the feeling of not being good enough.

For any creator, either of these can greatly impact future success.

Being Critical Influences Your Writing

Having a hyper-critical sense of yourself can lead to a variety of issues in your writing. Grammar, continuity, flow, and even the overall “mood” of a piece can be affected.

The end result is something that is lower in quality compared to what you could create. That’s because you’re already assuming failure.

You Take Fewer Chances

Nothing in life is guaranteed. But you will miss every shot you do not take. This means that taking a chance and missing is better than not taking one at all.

For many of us who are hyper-critical of ourselves, we’re less likely to try, which means we fail anyway.

You Avoid Opportunities When Being too Critical

Opportunities for success present themselves all the time. Some of these could lead to some amazing places we never thought possible.

Unfortunately, many of us avoid those opportunities because we’re too hard on ourselves. We often believe failure is imminent in such an instance, so why bother?

Never Knowing How Far You Can Go

Being too hard on yourself will take away from the experience and you’ll never know just how far you can go with something. That story you threw in the trash a few months ago could have become a New York Times Best Seller.

The fact is that you’ll never know because you trashed it.

Putting Less Effort into Projects

A lot of people who are too critical often put less effort into what they want to accomplish. This is because they already think the story or article sucks and they don’t have enough skill to convey an engaging message.

Instead of attacking the project with “gusto” and having faith in themselves as a writer, they give up halfway through writing.

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How to Avoid Being Overly Critical

As I said before, everyone has their own demons to slay when it comes to self-confidence and impostor syndrome. Learning how to be less self-critical is going to be dependent on your own experiences.

What I can do, though, is break down how I was able to become less critical of myself over time.

In fact, my attitude today is far superior to what it was about five years ago.

Focus on Accomplishments, Not Failures

As a freelance writer using content mills, I had about a 99.954% acceptance rate out of the thousands of articles I wrote. This statistic played a massive role in my mentality as a freelancer.

As an author, I accomplished my lifelong dream of having a printed copy of my book with my name on the spine sitting on my bookshelf.

My point is that you need to put more emphasis on the things you accomplished and only use failures as a learning tool. Even the smallest achievements can do wonders for your confidence levels.

Be proud of every step you take towards achieving your goals…even the small ones.

Let Your Audience Be the Judge, Not Yourself

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned recently is to not judge the quality of my work based on my views of it. Remember, you’re your own worst critic.

Who am I to say what people will like?

For example, I’ve completed some articles for clients that I thought were complete trash. Not only did they love the pieces, but they gave me praises, tips, and comments about how those articles were exactly what they wanted.

The point is that you just don’t know what people are going to love about your writing. If you’re being too critical of yourself and don’t publish your work, you’ll never find out who is a fan.

Compete with Yourself, Not Others

It doesn’t matter what others are doing in terms of productivity. You’re only in competition with yourself, and this is true in just about anything in life.

Well, aside from playing sports and competitive games.

In truth, though, no one else’s level of productivity matters in your life. Will it affect your income if I write 10,000 words today? Absolutely not. What matters is how much you write today.

Don’t hold someone else’s yardstick to yourself.

Create Obtainable Goals for Writing

One thing I see a lot of people do is set writing goals for themselves that are simply unrealistic for their current level of effort or capability. While it might be cool to write 1,000 blog posts this year, ask yourself if you’re really committed to doing such.

Especially if you’ve only published a handful of articles the year before.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have goals and aspirations. In fact, goals can help keep you motivated. I’m simply saying you need to keep them realistic.

For example, one of my goals is to write a million words in a year. This is realistic for me since I’ve been able to do this in the past. And I’ve come ever closer to the goal in recent years.

In fact, I am well on my way to hitting one million words this year.

The point here is to make sure you’re setting goals that you have the realistic potential to achieve by putting in the effort.

Have a Realistic View of Your Writing

Not everyone is going to immediately start writing like Earnest Hemmingway or Stephen King. The chances of your first book being a best seller are exceptionally slim.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give it your all, though. It means that you shouldn’t expect to write a masterpiece right out of the gate.

Take me, for example. I know I have a lot of work to do on my style if I want to be taken seriously as an author. I know that I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.

This isn’t me belittling myself as an author. It is merely realizing that I have a lot of work to do. What separates me from a lot of beginners, though, is the drive and capacity to become better than I am.

It is possible to recognize your shortcomings without belittling yourself.

Never Assume Anything

Assumption is often linked to being overly critical, and this is somewhat linked to what I was talking about earlier by letting your audience be the judge.

Never assume that something you’re writing is garbage. On the flip side, never assume what you’re writing is going to be extremely popular.

When you assume your work is trash, you’ll probably wind up tossing or deleting the piece. In this case, you’re denying anyone the chance to enjoy your writing. This is unfair to both you and your readers.

When you assume your writing is going to be immensely popular, you’ll become incredibly discouraged when people don’t like it. You may even stop writing altogether because your ego had been popped.

I mention someone in my book that I knew who gave up writing entirely because he assumed Textbroker was going to love his sample piece. Textbroker called it average, and he become incensed.

It’s Not Going to Happen Overnight

Being critical of yourself is a difficult thing to overcome. In many ways, I’m still hyper-critical of the content I create. Usually, it’s more in regards to the YouTube videos.

You’re not going to cure yourself overnight. The amount of time it takes is going to be different for everyone, so don’t expect instant gratification.

It took several years before I became less critical of my work as a freelance writer. Nowadays, I have the self-confidence to realize my abilities when it comes to client work.

Correctly Accept Compliments Helps with Being Critical

The first step I took to be less critical of myself was how I accepted compliments from clients and readers. Instead of always saying, “I try,” I started simply by saying, “thank you.”

This change in behavior, by itself, made a massive difference in how I viewed myself as a professional. True, it took a while before I started seeing what clients saw in my work, but the change was apparent when I started accepting compliments instead of dismissing them.

It’s all part of developing a sense of worth, and changing your behavior towards those simple things can make an impact.

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Constructive Criticism is NOT Trolling

A common problem I see from a lot of writers, especially those who are new to the field, is feeling attacked by criticism. Not every critique is an attack on your skills as a writer.

What you need to learn is the difference between constructive criticism and trolling. There is a gargantuan difference between the two.

Part of learning how to be less self-critical comes down to how you accept those critiques.

One of my favorite sayings is, “You can’t please 100% of the people, 100% of the time. Some will hate for the sake of hating.” This means you can’t expect everyone to love what you do. This also means you will have trolls, especially on social media.

Constructive criticism is when someone will offer a critique with the genuine purpose of helping you grow. A troll will critique something for the sole purpose of getting a negative response out of you.

Now, not all constructive criticisms will be based on fact or logic. For instance, someone may honestly believe what they tell you is true when in fact it’s not. You don’t have to accept all constructive comments as absolute.

However, you do need to identify who is being constructive versus abusive before being critical of your writing.

It’s Hard, but Not Impossible, to Avoid Being Critical of Yourself

I know how difficult it is to get past being critical of your writing. In some ways, I continue to struggle with it today. But it’s not even remotely close to how I felt 10 years ago.

It’ll be a tough journey, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. Success will greatly depend on how you view yourself as a writer, and if you want to accomplish great things, you need to work on self-confidence.

Always remind yourself, “you got this.”

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 8,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel. Currently, he is the Content Marketing Team Lead of GreenGeeks Web Hosting.

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