Whenever you set out to learn a new skill, there is always a point right at the start where you can look at the same thing done by someone so much more experienced than you. Often, this is the inspiration to learn in the first place, it is why you sought out lessons, or bought a new how-to book, or cajoled a friend into guiding you forward. It is the “I want to do that!” moment.
First of all, don’t ever forget that that happened. No matter what the impetus, there was a reason you took leatherworking classes, or borrowed a book about raising cats, or whatever it was. You may not remember just what it was, but that’s okay: there was a starting point. It happened.
This applies to anything, of course. Including mundane things like driving or cooking a meal, as well as somewhat more exotic pursuits. Such as writing. But learning through experience can be a long and lonely road. It really helps to get some outside perspective on what you’re learning. You may find you’ve come further than you think.
One of the things I’ve been learning to do is to cook, a necessity since I live alone and cannot afford to eat takeaway all the time. It helps to have an interest in cooking healthily (whatever that means), but I rarely cook for anyone other than myself, so it can be hard to measure how I’m doing. Tonight was a bit different. I cooked for 16 people at church: two dishes entirely on my own and without recipe books or packaged mixes. I could be self-effacing and say that it seemed to go over all right, but in all honesty, what I had been recently learning about flavouring food from basics was validated by several entirely unsolicited positive comments.
Basically, I’d found some perspective to how I was doing my culinary skills. It was a reset to my self-perception.
Like cooking, writing is a skill that takes time to learn and requires experience to master. It is easy to have the wrong perception about one’s own writing, especially if you compare it to authors who have been writing for decades. This isn’t necessarily a bad comparison: such writers are good to learn from. But the correct perspective can be hard to maintain if that’s all you do.
That’s why should be willing to let others read your precious words. You may be pleasantly surprised.