I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I’m very ambitious and have a hard time when things don’t get done or don’t go my way. I always set goals and make plans, but that doesn’t guarantee that everything will go according to my plan. I can’t control everything.
When something does not go according to my plan, I tend to be very hard on myself. I tell myself, I should have worked harder. I could have done more. This is my fault. Maybe I’m not good enough for this. Such thoughts never help me feel better. If anything, they only make me feel worse. They make it that much harder for me to pick myself up and have a better day tomorrow.
I once heard someone talk about combating perfectionism and self0criticism. What stuck out most to me was when they told everyone listening to ask themselves “Am I better today than I was yesterday?”
This simple question has really helped me. Whenever my day doesn’t go perfectly and I want to beat myself up about it, I try to ask myself “am I better today than I was yesterday?” Almost always, the answer is yes. This makes me feel so much better about myself.
Just as I can be critical towards myself, I’m often quick to criticize my writing. I’m hard on myself as a writer, and I find myself thinking negatively towards my novel. Nobody will ever want to publish this garbage. This novel is going nowhere. There are too many problems that can’t be fixed. Why did I ever think this novel was a good idea? Recently, I realized that what I do when I’m hard on myself works just as well as when I’m hard on my novel. This realization has made all the difference.
When I start criticizing my novel, I stop and ask “Is my novel better today than it was yesterday?”
Is Your Novel Better Today Than It Was Yesterday?
When the Answer Is No
Occasionally I ask myself this question and the answer is no. And that’s okay. I’ve had times where I’d go a few days without writing. When I don’t write, my novel doesn’t get better. I try not to let these days discourage me. If I ever find that my novel is not better today than it was yesterday I know that I need to work a little harder. I take this time to reflect on what is keeping me from working on my novel, or why my novel is not improving.
Maybe I’m only writing 200 words a day, and I know I can do more. Maybe I’m working on my novel but I’m fighting something that needs to happen. Once I recognize the problem, I set goals that will once again help me start making my novel better today than it was yesterday.
When the Answer Is Yes
Asking myself this question has helped me tremendously when I start doubting my novel. Writing a novel is hard work! I can’t expect myself to get it right the first time. That’s what revision is for. Taking the time to realize that my novel is slowly improving helps motivate me to keep going. If I’m improving day by day, I’ll get there eventually. As long as my novel is better today than it was yesterday, I’m moving in the right direction.
Sometimes I get bogged down by how much I need to plan, or write, or revise to make my novel what I want it to be. I get overwhelmed by everything that needs to happen. Asking myself if my novel is better today than it was yesterday helps me focus. I don’t have to fix everything at once. Day by day, my novel will improve and everything will get done. If my novel is better today than it was yesterday, it can be better tomorrow than it was today!
Is your novel better today than it was yesterday?