I take “killing my darlings” too far. In fact, I sometimes wonder if I have any “darlings” when it comes to my writing; I often feel as if my words become someone else’s once they materialise on a page.
This is probably one of the reasons why I feel divorced from my work. Not only do I mostly write for clients, but when I write for myself, the piece doesn’t feel like mine either.
I write, because I enjoy the craft of it. Twisting and turning a story, an article, a song, round and around — figuring out how to shape it into its best form.
Sometimes I totally fail and sometimes I could be better. But once a piece is out into the world, it no longer occupies the same place in my heart. It suddenly feels less mine and I’m ready to kill it, if required.
How did I get this way?
Being a journalist made me heartless, I think.
When you need to get a one-sentence tweet, 100-word email and 300-word article out 30 minutes after an assignment, you stop caring about whether your writing evokes such and such an emotion.
Your writing becomes functional, not a part of your personality.
I remember in the early stages, crying in the toilet because I didn’t get the right angle, because my lede wasn’t strong enough. Being told that I was a bad writer, that my work sucked, to redo an entire article from a different angle.
Back then, getting harsh criticism felt like the worst thing. I guess the good news is that now, the criticism can’t get any worse.