I'm really serious about writing. Deathly serious. Too serious, most of the time. Any and all problems I have with writing stem from myself - my hang ups, my neuroses. I have high standards and I'm well aware that I never achieve them.
I think, if I relaxed a little, I'd probably find it all a lot easier, because I have unrealistic expectations of everything a story should be. And that's probably why I rarely write stories. I have all of these ideas, but I put them on the shelf to write 'vignette of the moment'. That's great practice, helps me find a rhythm, shows me how to get the words into an order that pleases me, but I wish I could write narrative, cause and effect, plot with more ease than the current bashing my head against the desk.
So, that goes on the list of things that need work;
My problems with narrative are vast and uncultured. I think that it's that my subconscious always thinks going from A to B is too simple, so I try and go A, X, G, I, B and hey, that's different, that's quirky, but it's because I just can't master simple basic cause and effect. I'm not breaking the rules because I can, I'm doing it because I have difficulty staying within the boundaries. I envy people who write long, sprawling narratives, where Things happen and there are Consequences, because part of me appears to think it's beyond my capabilities.
2) Evocative description.
Description doesn't come naturally to me. I love simile and metaphor in other people's writing, but it tends to evade mine. I'm making a conscious effort to try and evoke sense memory, to mix up my minimalism, since I am aware that I may be perfectly happy with characters having a conversation in a big grey box, but other people like to know what those characters look like, the specific shade of grey and the dimensions of the space they're in. I think I've made good headway in this. I no longer block out my dialogue without attributing it or giving it a context.
3) World building.
This is a combination of the above in a lot of ways. One of the many reasons I write fan fiction is that there's a pre-established world in which you can write in. This is why my AUs tend to be only small diversions from the main arc, as opposed to, say, Sam and Gene being astronauts on a Mars space station (although, there was a time I tried to write Sam in 1873, where Gene was a milkman. Hah. I did all this research and then... gave up.) This sounds all wrong, but I don't have a great imagination. I mean, obviously I do, but, I don't at the same time.
Okay, so, usually, the number one thing people mention when they positively comment on stuff I write is my charactersation. It's typically one of my strengths, but I don't think that means I should ignore it when it comes to improvement. In fact, I should build on it even more, extend it further, so that I feel strong enough to take the risks I want to take. It will always come right back to character for me, even if I do get my plot skills up to a level closer to where I want them. Character and plot are inextricably linked and I write for that, for dialogue and interaction, for personality and conflict.
I don't know how much of this comes down to laziness and impatience. Whether I'm just not giving myself enough time. It seems like almost every story I've tried to pace myself on has never got finished. I want to fly before I can walk.
I have improved. I can see that. I think I need to realise that I can't be every writer in the world. There are limitations. I may never write that epic. That's okay. That doesn't mean I can't write.