View Full Version : Hating what you wrote once it's finished

01-24-2010, 04:04 AM
Why does this happen to me???

So I slave and toil over a story. I polish it to the point of perfection (or as perfect as I can manage) and I feel great about my characters and all the creative energy that went into fabricating them. I'm totally in love with my story. I have my "beta readers" read it, and they all rave about how great it is and I'm feeling fine.

But then I read it over again (in its final form) and HATE it!!!!

I hate it to the point that I actually delete the thing or refuse to look at it or send it anywhere. This hating period can last anywhere from a week to a few months. In this period, every blog/book/article/etc. is 10x better than what I wrote. I feel like I've written the most HORRIBLE story in the world. All of my characters seem stupid or contrived, my sentences, all jacked up, and I think to myself: "Good lord! My writing sucks! Why did I even bother writing it?! What possessed me to crank out this filth?!" All of my good feelings vanish, and I feel like a total amateur. If I'm feeling really bad, I'll delete the thing entirely and never look at it again. I've actually done this with a few novels I've written, I'm sorry to say...

Do any of you go through similar "hate periods" after your story is finished?

I try not to delete my stories anymore, but it does take me a few weeks (sometimes) for me to be able to "face" what I wrote without wanting to tear it up and throw it in the trash.

Is this a writer thing or a Treyfan thing? I hope I'm not alone in this.

Wayne K
01-24-2010, 04:21 AM
Rewrites revision , and editing. These are a few of my favorite things.

You don't write a book, you rewrite a book.

01-24-2010, 04:56 AM
What hate got to do with it? If you finsih it, submit it. How you fell about your own work has no bearing on the merit of that work. It just doesn't. As writers, we often hate our best work, and love our worst. Just submit it, and let an editor do his job, which is deciding whether it's publishable or unpubishable.

I hate the general writing isn't writing, rewriting is writing advice. Writing is writing, and rewriting beyond a final polish is usually wasted effort.

01-24-2010, 04:58 AM
This is totally normal, Treyfan. I feel like this about everything I write most of the time.

01-24-2010, 05:36 AM
All the time. The words never seem to match what is in my head.

If Beta readers like it, then I would start sending out to agents and see what kind of reponses you get.

I think this could be what Stephen King refers to as the 'anti-climax of the ending.' Or maybe you don't want to leave your characters.

Or is this a subconscious fear of facing professional criticism [I know that one; I have anxiety attacks every time an agent requests partials/fulls.]

01-24-2010, 05:49 AM
I haven't finished my story, but I have a feeling I'm going to hate it during the re-write.

01-24-2010, 06:05 AM
I don't always like stories after I've finished them, but I realise it's because I've read them too often during editing. If I left them a few months and re-read them, I'd like them. So I submit them immediately once they're done.

I couldn't imagine wanting to delete them. I keep copies of everything, including old drafts of stories (in case I want to go back and find a bit I deleted in a later draft). It don't like wasting effort, and writing something just to delete it is wasting effort.

01-24-2010, 06:38 AM
As writers, we often hate our best work, and love our worst. Just submit it, and let an editor do his job, which is deciding whether it's publishable or unpublishable.


If I hate it, then it must be good. If I love it, then I get worried.

Matera the Mad
01-24-2010, 06:58 AM
If I hate it, it's not finished.

01-24-2010, 07:42 AM
I hate certain parts, but not the whole thing. My first chapter gave me hell up until last week (and I still feel like there are probably things that could be done to improve it, I just can't for the life of me think of what). I absolutely despised my third chapter and ended up basically completely rewriting it. I took out a scene or two or blocks of conversation because I hated them and it was easier than rewriting them.

As frustrating as that is, though, I tend to be glad for it because it almost makes it a challenge. The more I work with a story, the more I can recognize the flaws. I can then fix those areas and make the whole thing better.

If you hate it because there's really reason to, then that's cool, but if it's just a lack of self-confidence then maybe just finishing it and setting it aside for a few weeks is all you need. I have, in the past, been so insecure that I haven't been able to read a page without constantly thinking "wow I suck so much" and wanting to cry. Then I decided that you know, writing is a process and something we are continually improving at, and more than that it can always be revised to make it better. That helped me out because it doesn't really matter if I suck. I know it can always be improved. It's not the kind of thing where you're required to get it right on the first try, and you can take ten or twenty if you want and that's perfectly okay. :)

Rhoda Nightingale
01-24-2010, 08:27 AM
I am so feeling your pain right now. (Points to "TRUNKED" line in current signature.) I was loving it up until I tried to put a decent query together, and realized that I have no plot. None. I think it has some salvagable bits, and I've put some really detailed life stories into all my characters, but I haven't brought them together the right way yet.

01-24-2010, 08:48 AM
I felt that way about my novel, as well. My only recommendation is not to delete anything. Let it sit for several weeks/months/years even, then go back and re-read it with a fresh eye. While you're letting the previous work stew for a while, write something else. Or rewrite a previous piece.

Sometimes we just need to let our minds reset after we write something.

01-24-2010, 08:57 AM
I hate what I write as I'm writing it...

01-24-2010, 10:25 AM
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one!

01-24-2010, 10:27 AM
I've threatened to delete whole chapters when I hated them, only to hide them away and come back several days later and like them.

01-24-2010, 11:02 AM
I've threatened to delete whole chapters when I hated them, only to hide them away and come back several days later and like them.

01-24-2010, 11:50 AM
Just about everything I've ever sold has come with the thought "omg, they bought that crap?!"

Nothing at all unusual about not being in love with your own writing.

01-24-2010, 01:19 PM
I'm with you. This happens a lot to me. It creates a problem with writing for the interwebs; without clear deadlines I find that I write stuff then leave it sit because I'm not happy with it. I revisit it later and, even if I finish it, I'm usually not happy so that most of what I write goes no further than my hard drive. I never delete anything, though, and often cannibalize old, unpublished articles for new ones.

Whenever I really get stuck in the everything-I-write-sucks-and-no-amount-of-editing-will-ever-fix-it thought cycle, I think of a story about the Turner/Constable rivalry. I can't remember where I read it so it might be apocryphal but I like to believe it's true. At an exhibition, Turner noticed that one of his paintings hanging near a Constable work looked drab and colorless. It was a seascape so right there on the exhibition floor, he whipped out some paint and added a red buoy to his painting. If someone as brilliant and talented at Turner was still editing his work even after it was hung out for public viewing, what hope do mere mortals like us have with ever being happy with our stuff? Do your best, grit your teeth and send it in!

01-24-2010, 07:51 PM
The problem is, if you delete the work, how do you learn when you start to love it?

For many writers finishing a work and looking over it is a painful experience. I haven't read either of my published novels in their book form. However it's now been two years since my first book was published and when I hear it read aloud, or when I glance at it, I realise that it actually isn't that bad. But you really do need the distance that time and writing another project affords.

I truly never understand someone who deletes something. What purpose does it serve? It's not like the MS is taking up copious room on your computer. Maybe create a file called "garbage" or " s***". Move your MS in anger and frustration to that file and forget about it. Then check it out a few months later. I bet you'll be surprised. But you need to stop deleting what you've created because you'll never learn to get past this feeling otherwise. Also I've never been a fan of that example of the artistic temperament, it seems so self indulgent and illogical.

01-24-2010, 07:58 PM
Well, I have deleted whole novels in the past. I try not to do it anymore. I don't think it really serves a purpose...it's just something I did to just cleanse. I can't really explain it...it just felt good to do all that work--months and months--and then just make it all just disappear with the click of a few buttons. And then...move on to the next story. Sometimes things don't have a purpose. Now when I get the delete desire I just transfer the file to a memory stick and then dump it on an old computer I no longer use. That way...I can always go back to it if I want. Interestingly, I have never reopened any manuscripts that I dump onto my old computer. It's the same as deleting them. I just transferred 3 manuscripts onto it about a month ago. That computer is the island of lost souls.

Don't delete it...just discard it to a computer far far away. Maybe one day you can open it up and take a read as an impartial reader.

Wayne K
01-24-2010, 08:04 PM
I deleted everything I've ever written once.

I saved to disc first :D

01-24-2010, 09:04 PM
I think Heinlein was right, and Robert J. Sawyer says it all perfectly.


1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
4. You must put the work on the market.
5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.


Not finsihing work, or finishing it and then not marketing it, is just one more form of self-sabotage.

01-24-2010, 09:15 PM
I have to be vary careful when giving a reading on a published book; after the pain in getting to that stage, I move on and write the next one and hate going back,

On the odd occasion Iíve forgotten to select the text beforehand, Iíve read out passages that have made me cringe, made my blush and made me skip over pages. Iíve wondered how the hell those passages ever got past myself, never mind the editor.

The funny thing is that when I try to analyse where Iíve gone wrong, and this is purely personal, I normally conclude that my writing has been lessened by over-editing, on my part.

Iíve sat on a sweaty stage and cursed myself for taking out all those adverbs, and even the odd clichť which would have more appropriate than my tame substitution.

01-24-2010, 09:43 PM
It's probably a lot better than you're giving yourself credit for. (That was a terrible sentence. I now must sacrifice to the grammar gods to appease them.)

Don't re-read anything you've written for a long time. Give it as much time as you need -- however long it will take you to feel objective about it. If you still hate it after a good span of time has passed, then you can edit it. But if you're going back to it when your emotions are still fresh, you'll ruin something that might be good with more work.

My dad was a painter, and he used to slash canvases if he didn't like his paintings. He not only ruined some perfectly great paintings that needed just a little bit of reworking that way, but he ruined expensive canvases, too.

Don't slash your canvases.

01-24-2010, 09:49 PM
My dad was a painter, and he used to slash canvases if he didn't like his paintings. He not only ruined some perfectly great paintings that needed just a little bit of reworking that way, but he ruined expensive canvases, too.

Don't slash your canvases.

I painted over mine with black paint.

01-24-2010, 09:51 PM
I hate what I write as well. I'll have this urge to delete my whole WIP every once in a while and I have to resist...a few weeks ago, I acutally deleted it. Not a good idea at all. It did feel good in a odd way, but a few days later I regretted it (thank goodness I had another copy saved by autorecover).

Even if you hate what you're writing, don't delete. Deleting is permanent.

I dunno, I don't like hating what I write and feeling like a failure but I can't help it. *shrug*

But I totally understand, I guess some writers are just like that?

01-25-2010, 10:57 PM
I also hate all my stuff. In the back of my mind, and even after I'm fully edited, I have this lingering self-doubt about the work. The best I can convince myself is that what I've written is "okay."

At some point, I let my agent know my feelings. Mistake. I've decided that it's better to feign confidence than admit a lack of - at least to those betting on you. He gave me a little pep talk about the process by relaying a story about Khaled Hosseini. No idea if it's true or not, but apparently Hosseini writes a chapter, sets it aside, rewrites it again without reference, and repeats until his is satisfied. Nobody does that unless they have a certain dissatisfaction about their writing.

I think that was my agent's point in telling the story. That, or he wanted me to shut up and work harder.

01-25-2010, 11:15 PM
FWIW if you slaved and toiled, perhaps thats your first clue?