Claudia La Rocco: The harder question to answer is not “Do I like this?” but “Why?” And so digging into that question becomes paramount for a responsible critic, so as to avoid ad hominem attacks and uninformed gushing and the like. Unexamined opinions are tedious, and they’re dangerous.
This one might hurt a bit. Not a band aid rip either, but an actual lasting pain, like a second degree burn. It’s easy to flip back through the pages of old work and to dismiss yourself, to say, “Oh that, who knows what I was thinking? It’s shit! And anyway, that was ages ago.”
Then you rip out the page. Delete the file. Toss the worn sketchbook. And, most importantly, forget about that moldy, festering garbage stink that lingers around the work you’re most ashamed of and happy to forget. The hard part is to look back at a low point and ask yourself, why didn’t this work? Was it rushed? Poorly planned? Too much brash ego, not enough effort and finesse?
Find an old piece, something absolutely cringe worthy. A monologue you wrote in Drama 101, or a juvenile painting that your parents have stored beside their CD player in the basement. Think of it as a dress rehearsal, as if you know it’s a dry run and there’s no audience watching you muck it up.
Now, try and rehash the work and reshape it into something of value. Ruthlessly edit out the extraneous and superfluous. Cut the show-offy and flashy bits. If necessary, start from scratch on the forgotten concept. Force yourself to see why it was failure and how you can improve upon your effort.