Saturday, February 26, 2011

Great Expectations

Two lessons I took to heart from my parents: never do anything halfway and never give up. As a result, I'm an "all-or-nothing" and "never-give-up" kind of gal. Normally, this works for me. But, I have to admit, it almost killed the writer in me.

If you don't already know, I struggle to make chair time. I believe there is always an opportunity to write, but my expectations regarding how much I could get done during an opportunity have been unrealistic, to say the least. When I didn't meet these expectations, the "all-or-nothing" part of me began to question whether I was really committed to writing. Because, in my mind, if I really wanted it, I'd make those unrealistic expectations (let's say completing a book in three or four months) a reality.

I was bummed when I didn't make it a reality and wondered if I was on the right track. I went long stretches without writing a word, which, of course, only made me question my committment more and made me feel guilty because it felt like I was giving up on something I truly loved. I rode this ride for longer than I care to admit.

Then, last month I read Ken Scholes's post on Expectations Versus Reality, Part Deux. In it, he discussed the fact that his expectations of work product were not realistic to the reality of his life. It made me realize that neither were mine.

Like so many, my life is full. And I have finally accepted that my day-to-day life only has so much room in it. If I manage ten pages a week, it really has been a productive writing week (for me). Finally, I've shaken the cycle and hopefully I will actually accomplish my goal to finish a book (this calendar year) - guilt free.


Lexi said...

I always think I will write more in any given week/month than I actually can do, so I would say my expectations are definitely unrealistic!

Louisa Cornell said...

Really great insight there, Kat! Guilt and self-flagellation are great energy suckers. They don't just take away one's enthusiasm for an activity, they can also take away the joy one gets when one finally has time to do it.

I've spent so much time beating myself up for not meeting the extremely high goals I often set when it comes to my writing that when I do crank out a great word count I enter the spiral of "Why can't you do that all the time?"

My life is far less hectic than yours, but there are days I still find it hard to sit my butt in the chair and write. I've started using some of the same positive reinforcement techniques I use on my dogs. I reward myself for getting it done and try very hard not to yell at myself for messing up. Yes, I am hoping I am as easily trained as a dog!

Keep at it. You WILL finish that book!

Carla Swafford said...

I know I try to revise my goals accordingly to what's going on in my life. Ten pages in a week and one book a year is a great goal.

Just think of the people who say they're writing a book and it has been years and no book completed.

So I think you're right on track.

M.V.Freeman said...

Always move forward. Even if its a sentence at a time or a page.

and 10 pages is pretty darn good! :D

Kat Jones said...

Learning to adjust my expectations has been a tough lesson. Thank you for the encouraging comments ladies!

Aron White said...

Being comfortable with yourself and your situation when it comes to writing is very liberating. :) I struggle with the same feelings of guilt sometimes when I don't get as much writing done as I would have liked in a week, but I have to let myself off the hook, smile, and tell myself it's okay. There's always next week :)