It’s understandable why self-deprecation is so common among amateur creators. People are afraid of being seen a certain way — full of themselves, oblivious to their own faults, practically inviting the harshest of criticisms. Making fun of your own work, belittling it, downplaying the bits you are actually proud of…this often gets used as a self-defense measure.People will be less inclined to tear me down if I swing the sledgehammer first, right?
I was in Vancouver for the 2011 rioting. There, somebody thought: “If I swing the sledgehammer first, everyone else will think it’s okay and join in.”
The world watched one of those theories get proven with 5 million dollars in property damage and 140 cases of blood spilled on the streets. The damage caused by the other mindset is more difficult to measure.
I do know that I get a nasty taste in my mouth every time I see a creator (especially one I’ve not heard of yet) saying that their comic is badly written/drawn, that they got lazy on the newest update, that their work is derivative or convoluted or nonsensical. I never bother looking at the comic after seeing any of these. Why should I? If the person in the driver’s seat doesn’t care about their cargo, why would any sane person climb aboard?
Think of the people who genuinely do enjoy your work. What must they feel like when you say these things? When it seems like they need to defend something they like against the very person who made it? They care for what you say in your work so they’re inclined to care for what you say about the it. Suddenly they start seeing the flaws you point out – where before they may have noticed none — until it overwhelms what they saw in the first place. Goodbye enthusiastic fan. Hello jaded (ex?)reader.
You don’t have to think your work is the best in the world to get behind it. It’s true that cockiness can turn people off…but not passion. Every time you find yourself about to stab your own work in the back, consider talking about the things you love about it instead. Not with a “this part is the best” attitude, but in a “I really care about this part” sort of way. “This is important to me. This is why I’m trying to get this out there.” Don’t be ashamed to be seen loving your work. Loving something doesn’t mean you think it’s better than everything else out there. It means the thing resonates with you on a personal level (as your own work rightfully should), and so you privately accept its faults.
This is your work. You brought it into the world. If one person in the world should love it, stand up for it, and tell people why they should be reading it…shouldn’t it be you?
By Otty Justason, co-creator of ZUKAHNAUT.commakingcomics.com