Sometimes, all it takes is one well placed comment to make you look at your story/essay/novel/etc. and go, “Man. I can so do better than this.”
I know because it has happened to me over the past couple of days.
Sometimes, better means a revision, editing a point of view error or plot hole. Other times, better means putting aside treasured sections of work because they simply don’t belong anymore. On occasion, better means re-envisioning your entire body of work, keeping only core ideas or plot points, and starting from scratch.
It is a painful decision to make and one that may make you question your sanity (at least, I know that’s what I’m doing right now), but if you can honestly look at your work pre-publication and say, “I can do better,” then you owe it to yourself to make the sacrifice. I mean, do you really want to put your name on something you’re not obscenely proud of?
I know I don’t.