Throw Your Writerly Expectations Out the Window: A Guest Post by Laura Frances

Where are my writer friends at?!

Please, go ahead take a moment to grab a cup of tea, find a comfy spot, and sit down to read this amazing guest post from author Laura Frances this morning!

It is so so so good!

Many of us writers (maybe all of us?) have struggled with expectations when it comes to our own writing and our writing journeys. I know I have on plenty of occasions, and this poignant post today reminds me (and all of us) I’m not alone in my struggle, but also that expectations do not have to define my journey.

Let me introduce you to her book (which is currently FREE on Amazon so be sure to go snag your e-copy!) and then let’s dive in!

About the Book

“It wasn’t easy transitioning to become a WRITER MOM. I struggled with everything from imposter syndrome to guilt…and still do at times. But as I sat at the dining room table one evening, hunched over a legal pad, scratching words at breakneck speed…I knew there was no going back. I was transfixed. Finding my voice. A voice I’d suppressed under years of insecurity and exhaustion.

My friend, if God has given you the green light, then hear me on this.

Close your eyes, block out the chaos for a moment and accept this truth.

We are all given gifts and passions to serve a purpose. (Ephesians 2:10) It matters that you love to write. It matters that you have something to say. Someone needs to hear the words trapped inside of you. To be a mom is to be a world-changer…but it’s okay if you’re called to do even more.”

Mom life can be isolating in itself. Add to that a creative ambition like writing, and you’re sure to feel the pressure. In this short read, author Laura Frances discusses her earliest years battling fear, draws on those experiences to find courage in writing, and strives to encourage Christian writing moms as they walk out their faith in both family and career.

FREE on Amazon (for the next few days!)

Let’s Chat!

You know what’s funny?

After a chat with Laura, who so graciously offered me this guest post spot today, we settled on the topic of expectations. It was a common theme we both related to. Something we each understood and have wrestled with. I felt sure it was a topic I could tackle.

That’s not the funny part. What’s funny is that in the days that followed, I battled with the ferocious beast of self-doubt…of not meeting expectations. The very creature itself.

What better to write about then the thing you’re encountering first hand? This is what makes the best journalists, right? Jump into the fray and experience the mayhem. Offer a firsthand account. And believe me, friends, a writer’s life is full of mayhem. It just comes, at times, in the form of mental anguish.

Uncontrolled expectations can drown a writer’s creativity. Demands, from whatever source, can quickly transform into walls pressing you into a tight space. Do the thing everyone’s waiting for you to do…but do it in this shrinking box of anxiety.

Now, I’ll be the first to say that expectations aren’t all bad. Parents expect obedience. A boss expects good attendance and work ethic. We’re expected to abide by laws and show respect to our fellow man. As a mother, I am expected to nurture and care for my children.

But as writers, we have to find a balance so that expectations don’t breed anxiety, fear, and ultimately, throwing in the towel.

My first advice, and something I do on occasion, might be this: write out a list of all the expectations/ambitions rattling in your brain. It might look something like:

  • Complete X amount of books per year.
  • Submit manuscript by this date.
  • Get more 5-star reviews on Amazon, B&N, etc
  • Increase sales and earnings to be able to pay these bills.
  • Post on social media platforms daily.
  • Prove to naysayers that I can.

Perhaps your personal expectations aim even higher:

  • Write a NYT Bestseller.
  • Earn a book to movie deal.
  • Earn large bonuses through Amazon by reaching the top of their seller list.
  • Win a prestigious award.

As a Christian Writer Mom, some of my expectations include:

  • Balance writing time, family time, and homeschool.
  • Aim for two hours of quiet writing time daily (Ha!)
  • Earn enough to cover better curriculum for my kids.

THE LIST GOES ON! And it looks different for each of us.

Now that you have your list, categorize it into realistic and unrealistic expectations.

Realistic expectations might require hard work, but they are rooted in a reasonable understanding of what you need to do to continue growing in your chosen field of writing. (Blogging, novel writing, journalism, etc) They will set reasonable goals to help balance out all the areas of your life. (Faith, family, work, etc). And they’ll give you something achievable to aim for.

Unrealistic expectations are so often rooted in comparison or perfectionism. Comparing your journey to that of another writer, especially one more successful or farther along on the road, will crush your momentum. At least for most of us. And comparing your process to someone else’s should be done with wisdom. What works for someone else might work for you…but it might not. You need to be okay with that. The beauty of writers is that we’re all so unique.

And do we even need to talk about perfectionism?

Excellence means giving your best effort and taking time to increase your skills so you’re always improving. Perfectionism is a death-bringer. A killer of dreams. Why? Because no single work of art (writing, painting, composing…) will please every eye. Will delight 100%, 100% of the time.

And on the note of dealing with the expectations of readers, don’t be afraid to set your own limits. One or two solid, well-executed books a year is much better than four or five sloppy attempts to please grabby-handed readers. (We do love grabby-handed readers!). Blog at your own pace. Decide for yourself what your limit is and stick to it.

My second and last piece of advice might be, for some, more difficult to try. And it puts a rather large X over everything I just said…

THROW EXPECTATIONS OUT THE WINDOW.

I know I know I know. I just made some heads spin and I’m sorry! But I can tell you honestly that my BEST writing happens when I clear out all thoughts of publishing. All goals and ambitions and pleasing readers and the like. I CRAVE getting lost in writing, but that never, ever happens when there’s a steady stream of expectations flowing through my brain. When each word is measured against the dream of publication. Or what each reader will think of that one line. When I’m constantly checking the word count to see how much closer I am to increasing my income…I can’t wordsmith worth anything.

Writer William Kenower puts it this way:

{…in those dark years I had heaped writing with expectations. My life, my future, my very value were seemed entwined with whether or not those books I wrote got published. It was an uncomfortable way to live, but it seemed like my only option. I had no other plan, no other ambition if this writing thing didn’t work out.

In retrospect, it was very dramatic. I was like the hero on an increasingly urgent quest. I believed in the focusing power of desperation, that by piling my entire happiness onto this singular dream I could will it into existence.

I could not.}

Maybe there’s a balance here. A time to list and categorize and plan, and a time to throw it all out and just write.

There’s so much more that could be said, but let me wrap this up with a final thought:

What if, in the end, the only opinion that matters is that of your Creator. The giver of good gifts. The one who trusted you with this talent to begin with.

Expectations can consume and overwhelm, shouting and pressing and screaming at us to get it right. To finish strong. To conquer and excel.

So loud, at times, we no longer hear the voice of the One who commissioned the work.

Taking pleasure in the gift that’s been given, and honoring it by keeping our ultimate goal on pleasing Him, relieves so much of the anxiety expectations bring. Trusting in His guidance and plan adds a heaping measure of peace to the work. This isn’t avoidance of responsibility. It’s a refocusing of what’s important.

My prayer for you is that, when it matters, you can write for the joy of writing. And along the way, experience blessing because of your efforts.

Always,

Laura Frances

About the Author

Laura Frances grew up a shy thing, always daydreaming. She is now the author of the Slave series, a clean, dystopian story. Residing in Japan with her husband and two children, she teaches the english language and spends her free time (when she isn’t writing) walking the narrow streets and learning Japanese culture. Frances strives to convince others through the art of storytelling that they can do the things they think they can’t. Slave is her debut novel.

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By | 2020-07-23T11:56:20-04:00 July 23rd, 2020|Bookish Love, Writing|2 Comments

About the Author:

Laura A. Grace had a lifelong dream of getting to know authors behind the covers of her favorite reads. Little did she know that one day she would become an author, too! She has since published Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl and Team Lines: A Poetry Collection, and has an upcoming manga, Gathering Faith. An avid BookTuber and book blogger at Unicorn Quester, as well as writer of clean, Christian manga, Laura creatively balances her passions of supporting indie authors and feeding her readers new stories. In between, she wields plastic lightsabers with her children and binge-watches anime with her husband.

2 Comments

  1. Cathy July 23, 2020 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    That was lovely. Thank you.

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