Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Writing Expectations

Sarah asked the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog’s question this month:
"Where do your expectations for your writing skill or quality come from? Is the source internal, external, or both? And how do you cope when you don't meet them?"

My writing expectations are strictly internal, and they vary wildly depending on the day, or even the hour.  I’m definitely my own worst critic.  When I’m working on a first draft, I do my best to tune out my Inner Editor and just get the story onto the paper.  My expectations are reasonably low, because I’m concentrating on emotions, plot, and to a lesser extent, on flow.

The deeper into revisions I go, the higher my expectations become.  And that’s where I run into trouble:  I rarely meet my goals.  Oh, my copy is clean; my grammar is beautiful.  But the exorbitant life I *thought* I had breathed into my novel is – as flat as central Texas.  Think shallow rolling hills, but no highs worth mentioning, and no lows at all.

I become discouraged.  I start to think I’ll never write a decent story, much less something anyone besides my mom would want to read.

That’s when I go work on a different project, something new and creative.  Sometimes it’s writing, but more often it’s crafts.  Occasionally I go on a reading binge.  (All right, frequently.)  But sooner or later I wander back to my novel and try again.  There are stories inside me that want to climb out.

What do you do when you don’t meet your writing expectations?