Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Why Your Work Never Feels Good Enough

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If you are a true creative, someone prone to perfectionism and driving yourself slightly mad, then you are rarely, if ever, pleased with your work. It always feels incomplete, unfinished, and never quite good enough.

And that’s okay. Heck, it’s even normal. But I have to tell you: You’re being too hard on yourself.

Never Good Enough

Photo credit: Flick (Creative Commons)

If you’re new, or maybe not so new, to the creative process, then frustration is most likely a constant companion.

When you’re just getting started — whether you make videos or write stories or design websites — you are regularly battling the voices of self-doubt. They tell you that you have no business doing this, that you should stop before you embarrass yourself.

Those voices are wrong.

So why do you do this?

Because you are a creative. And quite frankly, you can’t help it. In your mind, you see the project in its ideal form. It’s what the Greeks referred to as the “essences.”

In some ways, you will never achieve that level of perfection you see in your mind. On paper (or on film or whatever), it will always seem like something’s missing. And that’s because art is never finished. It’s the nature of the creative process.

But when you’re beginning as a creative, there is something else at play. There’s a reason you have that nagging, “never good enough” feeling about your work.

It’s because it’s true.

The problem is this feeling can lead to despair, which can tempt you to quit. And that’s the one you thing can not do, regardless of how much you think your work sucks).

There is no magic formula for overcoming this feeling of not good enough. In fact, it’s worth celebrating. It means you probably have good taste.

But there are a few things you can do to work through this feeling and still get the job done. Here are three actions to take when your work doesn’t match your expectations:

1. Give yourself grace

Give yourself room to fail. Failure is a gift. It’s your ally.

In this season, in which you are less famous than you may be someday, be grateful for the opportunity to fail without millions tune in.

Take advantage of anonymity. Try things you wouldn’t dare do if you had a stadium full of fans (and critics).

And don’t forget to give yourself lots of grace. Forgive yourself when you create something horrendous (because you might). Laugh at yourself. This is all part of the process. It’s called “practice” for a reason.

See it for what it is, and embrace this time of not-good-enough to get better.

2. Create, anyway

You’re not a creative because of the accolades you get. You’re a creative because you love to create. So do what you love, what you were made to do, and try to do it well.

But whatever you do, don’t wait. Don’t hold your work back from the world. If you keep shipping, if you keep creating and sharing what you’ve made, it will get better — I promise.

3. Stop beating yourself up

Be kind to yourself.

Stop tearing yourself a new one every time you listen to that demo. Stop beating yourself up in front of an audience before you speak. Stop apologizing at the beginning of every blog post.

We didn’t pay (our money, time, or attention) to hear your self-effacing remarks. They aren’t causing us to admire you or even pity you. They just make us want to leave.

Let’s name this. It isn’t humility; it’s low self-esteem, and it’s unattractive. Please stop it.

Join the crowd…

This feeling of never feeling good enough is common. I’m not sure that it ever fully goes away. But as a creative, you have to learn how to deal with it, or it will destroy you.

At the same time, realize that not everyone feels this way. Not everyone is like you. Consider this: your feeling of dissatisfaction may, in fact, be a gift, if you can see it that way and learn to manage it.

Here’s Ira Glass saying this much better than I could:

How do you deal with this feeling of being not good enough? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. Check out my new book, The In-Between. To get exclusive updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

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  • http://www.identitales.com Esther van der Wal

    Wait, so perfectionism is actually a symptom of being creative? That’s a nice eye-opener. 

    Thanks for this sweet reminder, Jeff. You’re absolutely right. And that video is indeed very good (I stumbled upon it a week or two ago).

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      yep

  • http://chriscornwell.org Chris Cornwell

    I am learning to just push through. I’ve stopped apologizing in my writing and little things like calling myself aspiring or wanna-be.

    What’s more interesting is that I have spent the last year coaching a guy to be raised up and replace me as a Student Pastor. When teaching him how to communicate this is one of the first lessons I taught him. Curious that I practiced it in one area of creativity while i ignored it in another.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      those small changes can make a huge difference.

  • http://twitter.com/croyseniles Christine Niles

    Jeff, perfect timing!  I’m just starting the discipline of practicing by producing regularly and consistently, and it’s a huge struggle.  I catch myself complaining and fighting and falling short.  Thanks for putting a name to it and shining the light, so I can beat it with a large stick (instead of myself).

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      you have a large stick?! i want one.

  • http://twitter.com/philrobichaud Philippe Robichaud

    Now that explains a lot, i’ve never looked at this, this way! Thank you, it feels good to know that i’m not the only one who feels this way :)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      indeed. you are NOT alone.

  • http://www.eileenknowles.blogspot.com Eileen

    Excellent thoughts.  I saw that video not too long ago.  Recently, I bought the book Do The Work by Steven Pressfield for my husband.  (I read it before giving it to him.)  I was thinking about that book this morning before reading your post.  Here’s a quote I liked, “There is an enemy, there is an intelligent, active, malign force working against us.  Step one is to recognize this.  This recognition alone is enormously powerful. It  saved my life and it will save yours.”    Those voices of self doubt you discuss is the resistance we face when attempting to move forward.  Thanks!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      love that book

  • Sheryl Browne

    Thanks! Timely post. Had been having a real beat-myself-up negative day. You’re right, low self-esteem comes with the territory sometimes, but it’s not attractive.  I shall now smile and tot up my achievements, rather than failures.  :)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      it’s a constant enemy you must battle. it’s not doing you any favors, that’s for sure.

  • http://7sentences.com Andrew Brewer

    This is exactly what I needed to read today! I’ve just recently renounced my self-proclaimed title of “perfectionist” and I have to say it’s a struggle. I’m trying to shift my way of thinking from “it has to be 100% perfect before publishing” to “90% perfect and published is better than 100% perfect and unpublished.” Thanks so much for these encouraging and affirming words :)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      well done! you’re welcome.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      well done! you’re welcome.

  • http://www.sally-apokedak.com/whispers_of_dawn/ sally apokedak

    I like this post and I like the video. I get what you are saying and I agree with it. I am always a little surprised, though, when people say they don’t like it when people apologize before they speak. (And I’ve heard it often) I am never turned off by apologies. I appreciate them. I appreciate it when people are clear about their shortcomings because it puts me at ease. I am always embarrassed for people who think they are doing great things (Like some of the singers on those talent shows on TV) and they have no idea that they have no talent for whatever it is they are trying to do.

    I’d rather have someone say, “I am not a public speaker, but I’m trying to learn to be one, so thanks for allowing me to practice on you.” Of course I wouldn’t want someone I paid to hear to say that. But does that ever happen? I guess I’ve never actually heard anyone apologize before speaking. But I have heard plenty of lousy speakers who were clueless to the fact that they shouldn’t have been boring us all to death.

    So I was with you up until you said we needed to stop apologizing because it’s unattractive. I’d much rather hang with a person with poor self-esteem than with a person with an opinion of himself that is too high. In the end, what we should be shooting for, of course, is self-forgetfulness. 

    Thanks for the provocation, this morning. I’ve been appreciating your posts for a couple of weeks now. I think I came over from Steve Laube’s blog, but I’m not sure about that. Someone linked to you. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks, sally. in my experience, writers and creatives tend to sell themselves short more than they err on the side of arrogance. so while there is an extreme to confidence (as is there one to humility), my sense says that creatives would do well to focus on being more confident. appreciate your feedback. you make a good point.

  • http://levittmike.wordpress.com levittmike

    On the base of my work monitor, I have these 4 questions (which I read on someone’s blog, and I forget whom, so apologies for not giving credit where credit is due !)

    - Who did you talk to today?
    - What did you work on?
    - What meetings did you attend?  (hopefully not many…because you won’t get much done if you meet all the time)
    - What parts of your work (tasks, projects, outcomes) did you move forward?

    If I can answer those questions with something, I was productive today.  Maybe not as much as I would like, but there will be days like those.

    Great post!

    • @darenbowen

      They are now on the bottom of my monitor!  Thanks for sharing and to whomever blogged them first…Thanks!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      that’s good, mike.

  • http://davidallenlang.com/ David Lang

    I actually had a high school English teacher who reinforced her dictum that “writing is never finished” by refusing to give any essay a 100% grade. The best you could hope for was a 99%. It sent the message that there is always room for improvement while also reassuring us that even the greatest writers never achieved perfection.

    • http://twitter.com/andreayorkmuse Andrea York

      I think that’s a tragedy – teaching a child (or anyone) that perfection is worth 100% rather than what we learned in the process and seeking excellence.

      Perfection is a killer and is subject to the one judging and we become dependent on seeking the approval of others.

      Excellence changes the motive – strive to do the best we can, giving it all we have.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Lang/100001917955780 David Lang

        Andrea, it appears you reacted to my first two sentences and ignored the last one. My teacher’s strategy was not to dangle perfection in front of us like an unreachable carrot on a stick, but to encourage us to strive for excellence and to recognize that any writing, no matter how successful, can always be revisited and refined. It took the pressure off and encouraged the pursuit of excellence rather than perfection.

        • http://twitter.com/andreayorkmuse Andrea York

          No, David I read that too but I still think it sends a message to strive for perfection, rather than excellence.

      • Ilanades

        Just had this conversation with my husband. He mentioned a quarterback he was a fan of who had the same philosophy. To strive for excellence.
        As a striver for excellence you are more willing to take risks than if you are a perfectionist…

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      i love that. in fact, i wrote about that concept here: http://goinswriter.com/art-is-never-finished/

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for that post. I just finished my first book, and I needed to hear that it is okay to feel like this. It is encouraging that others have walked this road before me and learned how to navigate and cope. I’ll just keep on keeping on. Thanks again!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      yup. keep at it.

  • Anonymous

    I seriously needed that today as in right now as in from here on out. Thank you!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      glad it resonated

  • http://twitter.com/andreayorkmuse Andrea York

    “If you are a true creative — someone prone to perfectionism — then you are rarely pleased with your work.”

    I take issue with this, as if a true creative and perfectionist are the same.

    I am a true creative, but I am not a perfectionist – I strive for excellence, not perfection.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      hi Andrea — thanks for the comment. there was some hyperbole at work there (which I hoped was obvious), but I do believe that we creatives are more prone to perfectionism than others.
      your creativity means that you have good taste, which means, in my opinion, that it’s tempting for a striving for excellence to devolve into perfectionism. they’re not the same thing, but creatives tend to be hard on themselves (particularly their own work), which was the point of this post.
      i appreciate your comment. sounds like you’ve got a great, balanced approach to creative work.

  • Erin

    I’m glad I actually read your work. I saw just the beginning “If you’re a true creative then you’re rarely pleased with your work,” and I assumed you were going to tout “excellence” and pushing yourself to keep putting in “just five more minutes,” etc. I was angry before I got passed the first sentence. How freeing to hear you share grace and hope and encouragement. Thanks for that much needed message.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks, erin. i’m a high grace, guy. if i’m honest, most of the stuff i post, i’m less than pleased with.

    • Nathan

       Funny but familiar that you were angry at an assumption but also cool and familiar that your read anyway. I’ve been there. Thanks for reminding me to be open enough to learn from uncomfortable or even angering situations.

      And of course thanks to Jeff for the post!

  • http://peterpaluska.com Peter Paluska

    Yes, it’s true. Even Charlie Parker, often called the greatest jazz musician of all time, was incredibly hard on himself, and rarely believed that his work was worth much. But he kept doing it, though I have a feeling it was his low self-esteem that led him to abuse his body and ultimately meet an early demise at age thirty-four. Ouch. Just do the work and enjoy it, people!

    Thanks, Jeff.

    Peter

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      amen

  • http://www.jasonvana.com Jason Vana

    This happens to me a lot. In fact, one of the best logos I made (according to everyone who sees it) was one that when I first did it and sent it to the client, I thought it sucked. There were only 2 rounds of minor revisions (tweak the color, make a circle thicker) and it was done. Now I see it and I think it’s great, but at first, man, I thought I was going to get fired from the job.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      the creative process is such a mystery

  • http://www.jasonvana.com Jason Vana

    This happens to me a lot. In fact, one of the best logos I made (according to everyone who sees it) was one that when I first did it and sent it to the client, I thought it sucked. There were only 2 rounds of minor revisions (tweak the color, make a circle thicker) and it was done. Now I see it and I think it’s great, but at first, man, I thought I was going to get fired from the job.

  • Keith Jennings

    Great post, Jeff!

    As we mature and get past our initial fears and
    doubts, it’s important to note that the feelings of not being good
    enough don’t go away.  They shift.

    Practice, by nature, means
    working on things we can’t do yet.  So if we’re truly practicing our
    craft, we are constantly facing our limits.  Which feeds feelings of not
    being good enough.

    It takes time (years) to be able to look back
    and see how much better we’ve gotten.  Until then, we should just keep
    working at the edge of our abilities.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      amen, keith. this is poetry.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      amen, keith. this is poetry.

    • Keith Jennings

      Strange formatting! Looks like a poem doesn’t it?

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        hah! indeed. (see my above comment.)

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        hah! indeed. (see my above comment.)

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  • http://theestherproject.com/ Lex

    Great post, Jeff. And dead on. It’s like you’ve heard those voices too … ;)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      just like that.

  • http://lifeallin.net Jacob Musselman

    Great reminder that creatives see the “ideal,” and the final product rarely, if ever, reaches that state.

    That’s why my wife’s feedback (or anyone who hasn’t been inside my head) becomes important to me. She doesn’t compare it with the ideal; she reviews what it actually is.

    We can’t sweep away compliments just because we don’t think they really know. They don’t know the perfect art, but they do know the actual creation.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      wives are good at that.

  • http://www.susiefinkbeiner.wordpress.com Susie Finkbeiner

    Sometimes it’s just nice to know that I’m “normal” in the creative world. Thanks, Jeff!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      yup. we’re all weirdos.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      yup. we’re all weirdos.

  • http://morellian.tumblr.com/ David Huntington

    It’s always good to hear this.

    Personally, I go through phases with everything I work on. I hate it, I love it, I hate it, I love it. And then after a while I’m too interested in the next thing to care anymore.

    The longer the project, the easier it is to hanging around in the ‘hating it’ zone. It usually takes two things to pull me back into being excited about what I’m doing. A message like this post, and an inspirationally good work of fiction.

    I just marvel at how consistent the cycle is.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      interesting cycle. i can relate.

  • http://www.dberruti.blogspot.com Deb.

    ‘Create anyway’ . . . great advice!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks!

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  • Teri Frana

    Thanks Jeff.  It helps to keep pounding these truths into my brain.  Keep plugging on.  Keep working.  Keep creating.  And STOP beating myself up.  (I will also try to stop beating myself for beating myself up so much.)

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  • Shelley Schanfield

    I’m not quite sure how I bounced over here, Jeff, but this was just what I needed today.  My tendency is to want every sentence to be perfect. When you’re working on a 400-page novel, that can slow you down. 

    One of your respondents below said that his high school English teacher never gave a 100%, but the highest mark was 99%.  I like that.  It’s a corollary of the perfect is the enemy of the good; the perfect is also the enemy of the excellent.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      indeed. thanks for visiting.

  • Merwyn Mathias

    Excellent article. The fact that English is my third language always made be afraid that I wouldn’t be a writer..leave alone a good writer. However your post made me realize that through practice and sheer determination, I can too turn words into ideas, even in a third language. Thanks.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Indeed you can, Merwyn. Keep it up!

    • Robert

       Vladimir Nabakov, born and raised in Russia, was a writer there until he fled the Russian Revolution; he lived in Germany and wrote successfully in German until the Nazis came to power, then fled to America, where he learned English and wrote classics like Lolita in his third language. Endeavour to persevere!

  • http://www.FluentBrain.com Matt Tanguay

    Hey Jeff,

    Great video! I like those vids with animated visual support like that, it’s neat.
    What you said about creating anyway resonated with me. From your words, “You’re not a creative, because of the accolades you get for your work. At least, I hope not. You’re a creative, because you love to create.”

    I believe it was in The Path Of Least Resistance that I remember it talked about creativity in a similar way. 

    I think this applies beyond writing – I can see it applying 100% to my business too.Thanks for the post!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      You’re welcome, Matt.

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  • Patricia W Hunter

    Wow…great video and awesome encouragement….to see the gap between what we are creating and our taste. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      yeah, comforting, right?

  • Lia London

    AMEN!!!
    AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN!!!!
    I needed this.
    It’s so true.  One of the helps I got was when a friend reminded me that no one is likely to scrutinize my book 48 times like I have.  They read it once, get an overall positive impression, and then move on to the next book.  
    We need to distance ourselves from our own work sometimes.  
    There have been many times over the years when someone will hand me a script to read.  I’ll laugh, enjoy it, and say, “Where’d you get this?  It’s fun!”  They’ll look at me blankly.  “You wrote it three years ago for the ____.  I thought  you might want your copy back.”
    Oh!  I had completely forgotten that I’d written it.  I let it go.
    We need to let go of our work sometimes.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      :)

  • Lia London

    Did I mention I LOVE THIS ONE?!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks. :)

  • KevinTylerNorman

    God through the use of Stumbleupon brought me here and I am so thankful. I’ve been trying to break out into acting, having done a few well paying jobs but nothing that will make me a huge success yet.  I recently signed up for a new acting class and this is where I struggle. I strive to be the best in a setting where it’s ok for me to creatively fail. A classroom is the time for me to make bold choices and fall on my face, but I always see it as a competition. When I try to be the best and focus on other actors work I lose sight of my craft and my abilities. I worry about topping everyone else in the class I never worry about topping myself. And when I’m not performing to how I think I should I let myself down and question if I’m doing the right thing or just wasting my time. Your post made me realize all creative people have this struggle. I just need to keep fighting and pushing through. I won’t quit.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Amen. Keep going.

    • Lia London

      You sure got lucky stumbling into this site!

      As for the acting class–just remember that you’re not trying to be the best in the class.  You’re trying to bring your role to life in a way that feels real and resonates.  Any number of actors can do that with the same role in different ways, and it isn’t about “better”.  Just  give your all to the part and make it yours.  That will be enough.

  • Kelly Moore

    I needed fresh inspiration, although I’ve known what the creative blocks have been for a long long time.  Procrastination is the king.  Thanks Jeff!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      my pleasure, Kelly. thanks for reading.

  • craw

    This is why it’s taken me 13 years to create my first album, and 9 months ago, I quit playing completely. Couldn’t take how I never live up to my own expectations. Thanks for the article….hope I can  take it to heart….

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      here’s to your second album!

  • Ellert

    Read uplifting post
    wrote a haiku about it
    writing a book now

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      nice

  • Shelly Miller

    Thanks of the encouragement and truth.  I even re-write my comments which reveals the depth of perfectionism!  Your last section – stop beating yourself up – reminds me of a hilarious skit by Bob Newhart that I watched during my coaching certification.  He says, STOP IT,  as sage advice to his counselling clients. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      love that skit!

  • http://www.jensrealia.typepad.com Jenmorrison07

    Hi Jeff,
    I teach creative non-fiction courses, because I want people to tell their stories.  I have linked to this great post in this week’s online class, in preparation for an upcoming lesson on self-care.  I’ll be back to visit again!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      very cool. thanks, Jen!

  • http://www.turningthepage.info Barry Pearman

    Thanks for this Jeff. Appreciate all the encouragement.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      you’re welcome!

  • Traci Brown

    Thank you!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      you’re welcome!

  • Hanny Daforcena

    Hey, I have a question. What happens if I think that whatever I write IS good enough? Does it mean that I am a lazy/stubborn writer? Whenever I write something, I will tweak it until I like it, and I get that satisfaction like I’ve created a masterpiece… 

    I’ve been around the fanfiction-writing scene for most of my teen years (I’ve just reached the big two-oh), and I realize that I never have the need to rewrite and edit whatever string of words I spew forth to the world, only until it’s too late. 

    Can anyone please help me on this?

    By the way, excellent article btw~ It did pose a few questions in my head. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Hey Hanny. Well, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. But don’t be surprised if as you get older, you look back on stuff you wrote years before and hate it. As you get better at something, your tastes change. Keep writing and striving for excellence, and you’ll be fine, though.

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  • http://www.audiosystemreviews4you.com/onkyotx-nr708 Onkyo tx-nr708

    Sometimes I feel that I am not good enough to do multi-tasking. Maybe you are right, it seems not right to stop beating oneself up. I guess I should think on a lighter side of my work and try to schedule  better to be able to do more. Thanks for the nice insights.

    /kristen b.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      or you just may not be cut out for multi-tasking. nothing wrong with that.

  • Mike Zserdin

    Thank you Jeff. Timely word for me. Very timely. It also reminds me to encourage my kids. Kids with talent, drive and desire that are investing their efforts in producing tasteful yet unrefined work. We must believe in ourselves and push through. But, it helps to have words of encouragement from others. And, I must keep encouraging my kids to create their own unique way.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      you’re welcome, mike.

  • http://junhax.com/ Paul Jun

    That video was just amazing. Wow. So happy I clicked that.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      yep. 

  • Guest

    When I read the title and saw the picture, I thought the post was going to be one line long, and consist of: “Why your work never feels good enough – because no matter how hard you try, or how much you know, there is an Asian kid somewhere who is smarter than you.”

  • Rachel

    You, my friend, are a godsend. I love-love-love-times-a-million-love your blog. It is exactly what I need right now. Thank you. 

    http://www.existation.com

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks, Rachel! checking yours out now.

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  • http://twitter.com/michelledkeyes Michelle D. Keyes

    I LOVE Ira Glass! He creates such amazing and inspirational writing and encouragement. Love your post!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      me, too. thanks, Michelle.

  • http://erin-elizabeth.com/ Erin

     Really liked your post, the video, and the general message. I’m a photographer and I definitely feel this way. It’s good to know I’m “normal.” lol :)

  • Zzwthngtn

    Thanks. Great article. I feel like this a lot lately and always when I start something new and I’ve never actually thought it through that way. The video also puts it into perspective and adds that punch of…don’t give up.

  • Miriam

    For someone who is just beginning a creative writing project all your blogs have been so informative on what to do or not to do. What a wonderful way to start my book.
    My biggest insecurity is grammer and the proper use of it as I was never very good at it in school. I always saw it as abstract. But rather than getting bogged down by it….I am going to do the best that I can, enjoy telling my story and keep before me “I have something important to tell that someone else needs to hear.”  As for the grammer….that’s why there are editor’s.

    Keeping on the positive side of life…… 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Grace-Galape/100003196879156 Grace Galape

    Exactly right! I am also guilty as  charged when it comes to feeling inadequate and feeling not good enough because I am so hard on myself and it doesn’t do me any good at all.  I came across a video that talks about how to overcome that feeling of inadequacy and stop feeling like you are not good enough. It’s a great video from Marie and I am sure you’ll love it too. http://marieforleo.com/2012/03/feeling-not-good-enough/

  • Diane Kratz

    Wonderful advise Jeff!

  • Linda Nightingale

    Thanks Jeff.  I needed this post!

  • Tod Parker

    Thank you for telling me that Im not crazy for doing this

  • http://www.MaryMarvella.com/ MMARVELLAB

    So many of us need to read this. I shared it. 

  • Sandra Delemare

    thanks for this encouraging blog – works for things other than writing. Years ago I said ‘if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly’ – meaning ‘sometimes it’s better to do something badly than not at all’ doing nothing is a choice, often not the best one.

  • @sunflowerchoco on Twitter

    This article and that video at the end was very encouraging and captures my sentiments exactly. Thank you so much!

  • Tranquilityhome

    Great post! Just what I needed today, thank you. As a Chief Financial Officer one might not immediately see the creative aspects of my daily challenges, but so much of this does apply.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Awesome!

  • J Kendall Author

    Wow it seems like you live in my head. So many of your topics, like this one run true in my writing life. Maybe it is just that these issues are so common.

    Personally I have handled this problem badly at times and let my own thoughts of “my work stinks” keep me from being creative. Slowly I have built a group a friends who I trust who are brutally honest and help me see what is good and bad, and thus I improve and grow. Also I repeatedly restart, I stop for a while, but I never have completely given up, so through perseverance I am now beginning to believe when other people say I do good work. Finally I don’t think I could ever quit, creativity is in my very bones and always oozes out if I try to keep it down.

  • Nepenthes

    Hello!.. i’m not a writer, i’m a visual artist fighting with my own demons…  your articles are excellent, so inspiring… and this video made me laugh and smile…
    thanks!!

  • http://www.raeofknowledge.blogspot.com/ Sydney

    I’m a writer and a writing teacher, yet so much of my work is locked away in storage bins because of my own perfectionism!  The advice you give in your post is the same advice I give to my students, yet do not follow.  Thanks for the reminder!

  • http://www.raeofknowledge.wordpress.com/ Sydney

    sorry, it was raeofknowledge.wordpress.com-ahh!

  • http://inhisloveministries.blogspot.com/ Pilar Arsenec

    I feel like I just got a spanking LOL!

  • http://www.lazuli-portals.com/ Joanna & Ron

    What perfect timing! You referenced this blog post in your email newsletter today, and it turns out that today (of all days) I really needed to hear this. 
    So thank you, Jeff – it’s really helped!

  • http://twitter.com/amandagebhard Amanda Gebhard

    Thank you. I needed to hear this. As a writer, young professional and lifelong perfectionist, I feel inadequate at least once a day. Good to know I’m not alone… And that it gets better.

  • http://www.KBSchaller.com/ KB Schaller

    Jeff, I just signed up for your updates. I’m sure this article resonates with many of us.
    Thanks so much. I really enjoyed it!

  • cait

    It’s always very encouraging reading your blog. Thank you!

  • Jean Kotzur

    I am almost seventy years of age and I have been writing all my life.  On most occasions I have  doubted my ability to write at all and often still do. However, I have never questioned my feeling of not being ‘good enough.’ Without this feeling I would never re-read my work nor would I strive for better quality in my writing. This feeling is there for a reason, it makes us strive to be better writers, but it should not stop us from being creative – on the contrary.

  • florabrown

    Jeff,

    This is one of the most thoughtful posts you’ve ever shared.  As creatives we are different, wonderful, unique, misunderstood (by ourselves and others) and often too sensitive and hard on ourselves.

    Your three points are a great mantra for each of us:

    Give myself grace
    Create anyway
    Stop beating up on myself

    Thank you.

  • Jenn Discher

    This is fantastic! Probably the most encouraging piece I’ve ever read on writing besides Bird by Bird. Thanks for writing it. 

  • Hello_kittyash

    Thank you !! This helped a lot! I think I’ve been going through a lot of mental and physical stress because of this feeling. I think most of iris my perfection of art, I love it so much and I think partly the reason is of the praises I get which aspires me to carry on, when I see other gia do artwork and are very good I tend to get jealous even though I might not show it and I hate that feeling because art is ment to be for fun! Could you give me some
    More tips please

  • Lshontale

    Jeff, I love your website.  Thank God I stumbled upon it when I was frustrated about clutter and my fading creativity.  You are truly the voice of the aspiring writer.  Thanks!!

  • Carrie

    My work isn’t bad. In fact, I’ll admit I think it’s good! But it’s not great. It’s not like the books I read. I want it to be great! I want it to be famous! I read these amazing books that I try so hard to live up to, but I know it will never be that good. I fear it won’t be that good. But, I’m setting my expectations WAY too high. I decided I wanted to be a famous author a LONG time ago (long in my sense), and I’m just realizing how hard it’s going to be, and the fact that I probably won’t make something good enough. I just need to sit back and not worry about writing something good, and your articles are helping me. Thanks. :) 

    • Guest

      What are you writing about? I am interested :) and to be honest with you I think you doubt yourself, I bet you are a great writer 

  • Guest

    I’m a fairly new writer and this is excatly what i was doing I need to stop worrying so much as its limiting my creativity thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/MeggieAngelova Meggie B. Johnson

    I’ve wanted to write ever since I was a little kid and now I’ve began writing for the screen, but I never feel like my work is good enough. I always think it’s not a good story, it won’t be interesting to others, you won’t make it in the business. Now I’m studying filmmaking and I am going to devote my life to it. I am going to stop pushing myself down and start building my way up ! Thank You for this post, it’s very inspirational.

  • Pingback: Writer’s Notebook, 5/1/12

  • Khushbu Sainani

    I’m currently writing a novel,my first, and I go through the same feeling that my work’s not good enough everyday… i mean when i’m writing it, i’m in love with it, i feel happy about doing it but when i’m not writing and i think about it the only thing that comes to my mind is ‘what am i doing? it’s not gonna get published… i’m wasting my time…’ This post is really helpful because i thought i was the only one with that complex.

    • sasha ramr

      Don’t say you’re novel is not gonna get published. Is it really about the publishing, or the love? If you keep loving it, then just do it, and know that because of that it will see the light of day. Good luck with your novel!

  • James

    I disagree with 1.
    If you fail, there’s no point in trying again as you will fail again and again and again, this makes 2 worse and guarantees you will quit. This, in turn, then leads to number 3. This makes you worse when you write, which leads to 1, meaning you will fail; this leads to 2 which leads to 3 and sticks you in a circle (like me!)

    • Kara

      If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.
      Building your craft takes time. You’re not a writer overnight.
      Nothing is ever ‘perfect’ the first time round, and nothing is ever ‘perfect’ in the end because there is no such thing as perfect. All you can do is write, and hope for the best.

      Allowing yourself to fail, and then getting back up and trying again, is showing that you’re not a quitter. It shows you’re willing to break the cycle.

  • Oliver Ford

    I never feel like anything I write is good enough. I proofread and edit but hate to have anyone read it while I’m around. My girlfriend gets annoyed with me when I don’t want to show it to her. But I just get this feeling like it’s awful, and if someone reads it they’ll destroy any self-belief I may have. It’s weird but if I remember anything I’ve written I sort of freak out and feel like I’ve been judged and condemned. I don’t know why I do this. Is it good or bad?

  • http://storiesmadepowerful.com/ Arlen Miller

    That’s a message of hope. Liked the video. Thanks for sharing it, Jeff.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      A pleasure, Arlen.

  • Nico

    Hi.
    I’m a graphic designer who’s a month away from graduating. I already work at a big design agency (i was hired after my internship), but recently, I’ve been getting this “my work isn’t good enough” feeling a LOT. My graduation project (sort of a small thesis accompanied by a graphical project) is not as good as I wish it was. It could have been better. It could have been MUCH better. But reading this did make me feel better… Whether my project is good or not, I now realize I am learning from it.
    I guess I just wanted to say thanks.

    By the way, I found this post by googling “why is my work never good enough”

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      You’re welcome, Nico!

  • Jill

    I feel like God led me to this article. I don’t even remember how I came across it, but I’m glad that I read it. I’ve bookmarked it on my computer and have already come back to it several times. I’m 33 years old and am going through a bit of a crisis in my career. I’m a graphic designer with limited experience due to where I have been working for the past 8 years. I want to get a new job so bad, but I don’t feel like anything I’ve done in the last 8 years will impress anybody enough to hire me. I honestly feel like a failure and completely stuck. Every time I try to pull myself out, I get beat down all over again by these voices in my head that tell me I’m going to embarass myself, or that everyone is going to laugh at me. It is really awful. And it seems as though you addressed all of that in your article, as if God wanted to put it right in front of me that I’m all wrong. I want to believe that I’m wrong and that I can succeed and pull myself out of this dark place.

    Thanks again for writing this.

    • sasha ramr

      Yes Jill! I think you can too!, And you’re not the only one feeling this way, as the video and article points out, so just keep trying, lots of artists don’t get to where they’re going without a lot of hard work and the will to KEEP PUSHING THROUGH.

  • Kay

    I have always wondered…. “why do I hate my work? Even when it sounds like the other books that I read?” I thought that maybe my writing is horrible. But than I thought, “maybe I am just a perfectionist!” So I came online to find help and you were the one one the top of the list! So thank you!!!

  • SEOinUS

    I don’t no why but I face same thing.

  • http://www.visherink.com/ William Visher

    Amen!

  • http://www.thisisimperfect.org/ Ryan Trimble

    Awesome!

  • cherry

    just what i needed to hear. thanks a lot. :)

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