Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Writerly Expectations—And How to Slay Those Dragons by Sondra Kraak

You’re in a dark, enchanted forest. Evening is falling, and you’ve no torch to light your path. Something warm blows across you neck, and behind you, a twig snaps. You spin to face…

Oh, never mind. It’s simply a deadline. Did you think it was a dragon?

Whether marketing, newsletter upkeep, or continuing craft studies, we are all buried beneath expectations that close in on us like mythical creatures in an enchanted forest. I can handle an expectation or two. But not three dozen. At the same time.

How to Slay the Dragons of Expectation

Identify the expectations and write them out.

My husband expects that I will not spend all my evenings writing. This doesn’t seem like a high-pressure expectation, but it affects me around deadlines when my own expectation is that I will be allowed to write ALL THE TIME.

My newsletter subscribers expect to hear from me. Obvious, right? This one pressures me greatly. I feel the need to keep up good communication with those who have made a commitment to be on my list.

I expect to sell books. Simple. But when sales aren’t great, I feel pressure to make them better. I feel like I’m doing something wrong. Which leads me to expectations regarding marketing (trying Amazon ads, etc.).

A publisher expects marketing efforts, blogging, and social media action from its authors.

Bloggers expect guest posts.

Identify the source of those expectations.

Expectations come from numerous places. You, your publisher, agent, editor, readers, family, fellow authors, writing instructors and coaches. If the source is you, is there another source behind? Perhaps you’ve placed an expectation on yourself to blog once a week, but where did that originally come from? A book you read? Advice from an agent?

Identify the type of expectation.

Tangible: these could be on a job description and their success or failure can be measured easily. Did you succeed at blogging once a week?

Heart: these are desires and wishes and are felt more than accomplished. Maybe you did blog once a week, but no one is reading your blog so the heart expectation of connecting with readers isn’t being met.

Blind: these are expectations we don’t know we have—until we do some deep soul-searching. They are the hardest to identify.

Ask if these expectations are realistic or idealistic.

Is it realistic that I expect myself to write, edit, and publish one book a year? No. Not with my job, family needs, and my slow writing pace. But is it my expectation? Yes. In my heart. But it’s an idealistic one.

We often disappoint ourselves when we hold unrealistic expectations over ourselves, so spend time on this step truly discerning if an expectation is realistic or not.

Schedule your tangible expectations.

Put deadlines and events on the calendar, and if that’s on your phone, set reminders as well. Even a reminder to post to social media can be helpful if you’re one for whom that doesn’t come naturally.

Decide what expectations to hold on to and which to let go of, then take action.

Those expectations that need to be released? Write them down and throw the paper away. Do you need to confront anyone over unrealistic expectations they may have placed on you? Do you need to have a hard conversation with your agent? Looking ahead to future contracts, do you need to ask for different things?

Action is so important. All the thought work you put in will be for naught if you can’t follow through. So go tell a close friend about your expectation struggles and allow them to hold you accountable.

Are your writerly expectations morphing into dragons that need to be slayed? @SondraKraak @MaryAFelkins #amwriting #writerwisdom #SeriouslyWrite

Did these tips help you sort through the expectations you place on yourself and the expectations others place on you? I hope so! Anything to add? Let me know.

Connect with Sondra
Instagram www.instagram.com/sondrakraakauthor
Facebook www.facebook.com/SondraKraakAuthor
Website www.sondrakraak.com

Sondra Kraak, a native of Washington State, grew up playing in the rain, hammering out Chopin at the piano, and running up and down the basketball court. Now settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, Instagramming about spiritual truths, and writing historical romance set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She delights in sharing stories that not only entertain but nourish the soul. Her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble, was an ACFW Genesis semi-finalist and the winner of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Unpublished Women's Fiction Award. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook and join her newsletter for a free short story and information about special devotional series.

Sondra's latest release - Four Dreams of You 

Unfulfilled dreams have left Grace Thomas vowing not to let her imagination roam wild again. Resigning herself to the realistic dream of owning a dress shop, she accepts a position as a housekeeper at Monaghan Lumber Camp in order to earn funds. The plan is simple, easy, and safe. But Torin Monaghan is not. The reclusive brother who seems indifferent to her presence is ironically the one stirring up her imagination once again.

Torin Monaghan will not be deterred from his passion to preserve the beauty of nature. Even if it appears as if he’s going against his family. Even if the quirky and wistful seamstress invading his space is proving a distraction. To his frustration, Grace Thomas is not easily dismissed, and neither are the ways she’s opening his eyes to a different sort of beauty.

When past threats bring new trouble to Pine Creek, Torin and Grace must become vulnerable—to each other and their community—and through risk, discover that reality is more fulfilling than their dreams.

Buy on Amazon

4 comments:

  1. Dear Sondra,
    Did this post connect with me? Yes! yes! I'm stuck in that forest you pictured, with dread in the pit of my stomach, unmet deadlines piling up around me, and am more inclined on this chilly 62 degree day to climb back in bed and pull the covers over my head then to get up and plough forward. BUT your post about expectations is casting light into the darkness, igniting a little spark of interest to explore the feelings, to put names to the dreads, and to pick up the threads of the tangled web I am weaving and pull myself out of this plot hole. Whose deadlines are they? whose expectations? What is my heart need? Thank you. Blessings, Ann

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! I can relate to everything you said, Sondra! It's difficult to set realistic expectations at times when it feels like we're being pulled from so many directions. Right now, I'm facing self-imposed deadlines that are going to be tough to meet. I couldn't do it without my husband being in my corner. Most of the time, he prefers that I don't write/work in the evenings or on weekends, but sometimes, it can't be helped.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am learning to not stress over deadlines and expectations I place on myself. Some days are filled with writing and some days are filled with gathering ideas. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I appreciate the challenge to consider both the source of my expectations and to ask if they're realistic. Too often I take advantage of my husband's support, leaving him to see far more of the back of my head. That's a dragon that needs slaying! I need to remember that God wants me to be about the tasks He's specifically assigned to me on this writerly journey.

    ReplyDelete

We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!