Tag s | Expectations

Joy to the (Writer’s) World!

The Christmas season is upon us. A time of delight and good cheer. A time overflowing with laughter, when we’re restored to carefree children filled with wonder. Right?

Um…not so much.

In fact, a number of folks have said how frustrated they are, how they’re behind on everything, and overwhelmed with all they should be doing. After all, it’s Christmas! And if they don’t get things done, Christmas will be ruined!!

Um…again, not so much.

Because—and you all know this, deep in your little over-achiever hearts—Christmas isn’t about decorations or shopping or baking or cards or any of the multitudes of things we have on our To-Do lists. It’s about the state of our hearts. It’s about keeping our focus on what truly matters this time of year:

Kindness

Family

Friends

Love

Grace

…and so very much more. But what it’s NOT about are the expectations and “must-do” lists that we put on ourselves. Those things just end to steal our joy.

As I pondered all this today, it occurred to me that writers have a tendency to put expectations and “must-do” lists on themselves not just at Christmas, but year-round. We tell ourselves we’re not being faithful to the call if we’re not:

Building a platform

Meeting a word count

Attending writers’ conferences

Speaking Teaching Promoting Making money

      …and countless other things we’re either being told or telling ourselves we HAVE to do.

But as with the expectations and lists of Christmas, these things have the tendency to steal a writer’s joy. Too often, we writers get so tangled in all the “must dos” that we lose sight of what’s really important:

Doing the task God has given us

Crafting words steeped in His truth and spirit

Sharing the message He’s given us with a weary, terrified world

…and so much more.

So this Christmas season, may I make a request? Will you set aside your lists and expectations, both of the season and of yourself as a writer? Will you set aside time to savor what is all around you…

The wonder in a child’s eyes

The warmth of home and family

The beauty of lives changed because of what God has asked you to write

…and, you guessed it, so much more.

There’s joy in the season, friends. And in the task of writing for the Master. Don’t let “stuff” keep you from taking that joy and embracing it. Instead, let it wash over you and restore you. Spend quiet time focusing on what matters, and let the other things go. Christmas—and writing—are not about doing it all. Not really. They’re about being present in the moments God brings us, savoring Him and all He’s given, letting grace overflow in our hearts and spirits, and then, when we’ve been filled by Him, sharing all that with others.

Merry Christmas—and happy writing!

 

 

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Overcome the Discouragement of Expectations

Guest post by Erin Taylor Young


This is Henry, our dog. Not my husband.

I love my husband. Really I do. But there are occasions I’m tempted to take a sharp, pointy pencil and stab him somewhere non-fatal. Especially when I’m torqued over my anemic word count, frustrated by a recent edit, or discouraged by yet another rejection.

I’m venting why, why, WHY, and my hubby turns into a fixer. Worse, he’s a fixer with a PhD, so when he tells me exactly what’s going on inside me and how to change it—apparently it’s some stupid cycle between my situation, my brain, and my emotions—he’s right. I hate that.

Can I not just have five minutes to wallow?

Sometimes that’s exactly what we need. You know, like a good mud bath. People pay money for that.

Then again, people also get sucked into mud bogs and are never seen again.

The difference is in knowing what you’re doing in the mud and how to get out when it’s time. Which means understanding that cycle between situation, brain, and emotion is actually helpful. I’ll give you the elevator pitch though, so your eyes don’t glaze over.

We have goals. We try to achieve them. We fail.

Then we feel rotten because the mismatch between our goals and our ability to achieve them creates frustration. This is perfectly normal, and in fact a GOOD THING because it compels us to adjust our methods or our goals, i.e. get a grip on reality.

Sometimes it’s easy. Like that six-figure book contract with an eighty-city tour? Give it up.

Sometimes adjusting our goals is hard, because what if we did everything right? We wrote a great book, we’d be giddy over a puny contract, and the manuscript went to pub board at three houses. Then got rejected.

Our perfectly normal frustration makes us wrack our brains to figure out what we could’ve done differently, or what we can change now. But there’s nothing. So our brains keep cycling until we exhaust ourselves straight into discouragement.

And that, my friends, is a bog we can drown in.

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