When I was fourteen, I thought I knew all there was to know about writing. I had, after all, completed my first manuscript, aced every creative writing task sent my way, and even had won a handful of competitions.
Scene: The dangers of the phrase "good job" from Whiplash (2014)
I was an arrogant little turd.
As you can imagine, I got what was coming to me in the form of an average score on a short-story assignment. I can't for the life of me remember what it was. Perhaps I was so agitated by my marks that I've repressed all former memory of it. Perhaps I arrogantly thought I was above the assignment, and therefore needn't memorise. "Well," they said, "it's a good story, Luke, but you didn't fulfil the criteria." I didn't like that, so I went on about this and that and tried to get it changed until, browbeaten, my teacher finally said: "Luke, you just can't take criticism, can you?"
And that was the best piece of advice I've ever received.
As writers, especially as young writers, it's easy for us to think that we're pretty good. Some encouragement in high school, and a dash of parental pride, we're convinced we've got it. I certainly thought so, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I'm not here to tell you that you don't got it, just simply that 'it' can be tweaked, altered, and most definitely improved upon.
I think it's easy for creative types to believe their own hype. The trick is to keep the thought of progress always in the forefront of our minds.
In short, I think it's like this: reflection and improvement are the keys to success, pride and apathy are the lock.