You are a critic. Don’t be sentimental about your art

"Art is Trash - only show your best creative work. Be your own critic"

ART IS TRASH – Street artist, Francisco de Pajaro

A natural critic

On Saturday morning as I sat down to write with a strong cup of coffee. I went through my usual writing rituals and superstitions, I felt great. No, I felt inspired.

My muse had arrived early, and the writing flowed. Words appeared faster than my digits could exorcise them onto the laptop. Concepts and ideas arrived in my caffeine wired head and evolved on the page into prose that I liked. After two hours of writing, I sat back and was content.

My stomach let me know that breakfast was due, so I grabbed a bowl of muesli and watched a quick rerun of an old episode of Fraser.

Upon returning to the white pages on my laptop, I read what I had so lovingly written. It no longer resonated with me. That warm feeling I’d experienced when I wrote it was gone. So I trashed it. All of it.

Only you will ever care about your work

I sat back and thought about what I’d just done, and it dawned on me. Only I would ever care whether the prose was good or not. Whether a single chapter was good enough or whether the book was up to standard. The reader would either like it or not, but they wouldn’t care about it.

I guess it’s a lesson I learnt in the early days of my wildlife photography. When it came to editing photos, I had to be ruthless. My choice of what was genuinely good work versus what I was sentimental about, could make or break me. You have to be your own ruthless critic. It takes practice and will be difficult at first, but you must persist.

Delete the bad work, don’t be sentimental about it. Care enough about your art to only put your best work out there.

  • Evaluate your work as a customer would.
  • Evaluate your work as a competitor would.
  • Disregard the views of those close to you as they will just boost your ego.


Be your own critic

To be your own critic, you have to understand the technicalities of your art. No great work can transpire without the mastery of the skill involved to create it. So work on the technical side as much as the other aspects. It doesn’t matter whether you are writing a novel, painting a landscape, photographing a car in a studio. All require the same things – passion, creativity and technical ability.

In a previous incarnation, I was involved in manufacturing and production at various companies. There was one phrase which always stood out for me. It was a slogan that Toyota had used on many marketing campaigns.

In our world, there’s no best — only better.

So as you travel along on your creative journey, you must remember that you’ll grow and that you can never be your best. You can only be a little better than you are at that point.

Care about your work enough to know whether it’s good enough to put out there, but don’t be sentimental about it.

You will be judged on it.


Something else you may want to read. A post about how I went back and re-edited my first novel after I’d been online for a while. – Editing previous works


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