Is it normal to prefer other’s work over my own?

All my life i’ve suffered from this. No matter what creative art field. Whether it be painting or writing or especially music. But i always prefer other peoples work. I dont like mine as it feels inferior. Ive heard of imposter syndrome but how can i know for sure? I may just be producing inferior work and being brutally honest with myself. Maybe its low self esteem. Its something and its always held me back. Anyone else in this club?


It’s hard for me to know because everything I produce probably is shit.
If you have a good time doing something, do it. I think that’s more important than the very subjective quality of the output.


This is great advice.
Enjoyment of the process is key to me and it seems that people are (mostly) their own hardest critic


I think it’s just a trait a lot of creative people share. Totally normal.


Echoing what Fin25 said. Often I come up with pure shit. But even then it’s my shit and often I’ve had fun doing it. At the best of times I come up with a song that means more to me than some of the artists I listen to. That is pretty rare and I realise it’s likely no outsider will feel the same way about my track but those are the moments that keep me doing this.

@Bunker is also right. Anyone who thinks they only come up with brilliant ideas probably has a messiah complex.


Check this video about the creative process out. Only 2 mins. It might get posted here a lot, but something I think about often.


I can relate. What’s even worse is when the existential crisis sets in because you feel like nobody out there will ever hear or care about your music. Like the others say, it’s all about finding personal fulfillment in the creative process.


It’s funny you should mention this. I was watching an old interview with Pino Palladino discussing his bass line on wherever I Lay My Hat. He said he was embarrassed when he first heard it played and thought he’d never get another gig once people found out it was him. He even said something like “Us musicians never think were any good”

Edit. Found the vid.


When I still played actively in a band, I used to say that ”if YOU don’t think that your band is the best band in the world, then what’s the point of playing in that band?” I still think that it’s partially true. You need to be your own biggest fan.

But at the same time I have to admit that I always held most other ”big name” bands in higher regard than our own band. I was proud of our albums and things but they felt a bit ”home made” compared to ”true artists”. I guess that’s the way it always feels.


You want some objective measure of how good your stuff is ? Not sure you’ll find one. :laughing:

Maybe define your own success criteria and see how you measure up to those ? Could be anything from “did I feel happy when making that” to “did I make a million from my music last year”. You’ll probably finish up happier if you decide what’s important to you than if you try to to reach some arbitrary objective standard.

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It’s normal. And a chance to repost a meme:


I’ve used those exact same words many times and that’s precisely what I meant in my earlier post. Still think it’s true. If your music (the whole process that goes into it, not just the ”final work”) at the best of times is more meaningful to you than the rest of all music, then you’re in a very happy place.


Good point. I quantify success with happiness. Money is a just luck in most cases. I think i have moments of happiness in creation. I enjoy being in the ‘zone’. I must find out what important to me.


Ive been having this crisis since i turned 50. I have always been my hardest critic. But its gone to another level. I can relate to people actually smashing up things. Like Jimi Hendrix or Pete Townsend. Thats a new one :slight_smile: Now im feeling like MacMurphy and Nurse Ratchett telling me its time for my medication. Hmmmphhh

Okay. From now on i’m gonna say I’m happy with my shit. Because nobody makes shit as good as me. You want shit, im your man. :smiley:


It’s like hearing your own voice on a Recording. Chances are that you won’t like it. Everybody else has a voice that sounds better than yours.


It a double-edged word: if you aren’t your hardest critic you won’t improve. On the other hand you’ll need a realistic view on others (the perspective on your own stuff is skewed).

It’s simply not true that everyone else is better. You are too close to your own products. Let some time pass (maybe weeks, months, whatever) and re-examine your work again.

To me most of the stuff I’ve done myself in the past (photography, writing, music) looks like it was done by a stranger. It’s then when I really can judge it.


It is much normal than the opposite at least. What would be the point to continue if you know that you are just the best musician ever.


Already posted above as a video, I think, but this reminds me of what Ira Glass calls the “taste gap”:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

In addition to this, with music you have the added effect of knowing exactly how it was put together, and probably already having heard it a million times more than other music you listen to.


I remember a recent interview with Thom Yorke were he talked about making tunes and thinking they were shit, until he showed them to his bandmates and they would go “this is great” or whatever.
Made me me think “ok, of this is happening to the Radiohead guy, it’s pretty much normal”.
I constantly struggle with this, I think it’s good to have a few friends on who’s opinion you can rely, to improve your music and your perspective.

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