Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lowering your expectations

While he's probably not the first to say so, poet William Stafford is famous for encouraging writers and poets to get out of writer's block or a writing slump by lowering their expectations. It's good advice for all of us creatives.

It's advice that I'm not always smart enough to follow, one of those do as I say, not as I do, things. Most of us have well-honed inner critics that are full of familial, cultural, and personal comments about the quality of the work we do or the odds of us succeeding with our art. I am no exception.

But those voices aren't helpful, for if we listen to them, we don't risk. We don't try new things. We see the tasks ahead as insurmountable rather than one step at a time.

I'm not suggesting that we hold ourselves to no standards, although that can be handy from time to time. I don't think most of us will banish the inner voices permanently. But if we just keep writing (painting, potting, sculpting, collaging), something good will come of it. And much more will come of it if we lower our standards than if we are flummoxed by the thought of not good enough.

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