Ridiculous Expectations

I have a lot of expectations. Of myself, of others, of products and fictional universes–but mostly of myself. I’m perfectly willing to admit that other people are flawed, and do things that don’t make sense, and need days of rest. I’m almost as willing to admit that my favorite character isn’t perfect, or that the fictional universe doesn’t have to be what I really, really want it to be.

But myself? It’s so much harder to give up my own expectations for myself.

So many of my expectations are ones I don’t even realize I have. Like when it comes to adults: I can verbalize that adults are not perfect and do not have it all together. Really, though, I still believe that other adults are in fact perfect, or at least have this adulting thing down to an art, and I’m the only one still bumbling along, avoiding doing my taxes or taking my car to the mechanic. I have this expectation that adults doing avoid anything, ever, and certainly clean and do laundry on a regular basis and want to go to work. I’m not even sure where these expectations came from, actually, because I don’t actually know any adults who want to go to work all the time, and it’s ridiculous to think that no one ever avoids doing things or always does all of their chores. And, see, I can name that ridiculousness, but I still feel guilty thinking of the pile of laundry I need to do. 

And when it comes to writing–boy, do I have some expectations about that. I expect myself to write consistently, ideally an hour or two every morning before I go do some laundry or whatever. I expect my ideas to come regularly (but not overwhelmingly). I expect the words to come easily. I expect myself to always balance perfectly the need to write and writing for money and writing becoming addictive again and writing what I love and writing well. And then I get so frustrated when, oddly, I am not perfect. And, see, I can recognize that these expectations are ridiculous, too, but that isn’t that helpful when I’m in the midst of feeling like a worthless writer because I have no ideas or haven’t blogged in two weeks, or like a worthless human being because I’ve fallen into addictive, destructive behaviors towards stories, or like a failure because I want to write so much that I sit at my computer and watch Netflix because sometimes feelings are just too overwhelming. 

And, yes, recognizing a problem is the first step in solving it. Sure. But I’ve always struggled with this and I suspect I always will. I struggle with my ridiculous expectations, but I’ve also been doing the work to let those expectations go.

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Bees and light

Anyone who has known me for long enough has probably seen me excitedly run after a bee, or stand and watch one on a flower. It’s no secret that I love bees. So it’s rather fitting that my first devotion at the Upper Room is about a bee. I’m honored to be featured.

And, if you’re curious about how I came to see that particular bee, and the trip I was on at the time, I also wrote a blog post for them about the experience.

So…

It’s been a while, embarrassingly so. 

I have all sorts of excuses, but it boils down to the fact that writing has been hard lately. I haven’t felt motivated, and I kept pushing it off until “later.” I’ve had some difficult news on the job search front, and the whole thing has been really discouraging, and it’s been hard to be optimistic and feel like much is worth doing in the midst of that. I haven’t felt like I could listen well enough to write.

I’ve always felt like writing is all about listening–to myself, to others, to God, to the story or article I’m writing. And I’ve been bad at listening lately, whether it’s to God or myself or the people around me. Discouragement makes it hard. Discouragement makes me narrow my focus to myself, to whatever’s gone wrong and whatever I’ve done wrong. Narrowing doesn’t lead to listening. 

I’m trying to listen again, to write again. Both give me hope.

I need some hope.

Writing Update

I really enjoyed updating you on how much writing I’ve done. It was a nice way to feel accountable and inspire myself to keep going, which is why I decided to continue doing updates.

Here are my totals for the past two weeks:


I kept the same goal of writing one hour a day. As you can see, I’ve been more successful this month at reaching at least an hour of writing in a day, which always feels like the big mile marker. Actually reaching it is such a rush! 
It’s funny that I’ve reached an hour more this month, because my focus has shifted. I started focusing more on the every day part of my goal, and just being excited when I wrote every day. If I only wrote ten minutes–well, I wrote. If I didn’t write anything for publication–well, I wrote. Taking the pressure of reaching sixty minutes off of myself was so helpful and freeing, because then I could just focus on writing. Once I took that pressure off, I started to write more days and to reach an hour of writing more often. 

I always forget how important it is to give myself grace and be kind to myself, but I learned that lesson again these past few weeks.

Here’s to learning it again as we go forward!

What have you been writing and learning?

Perfect Writing

One of the reasons I haven’t been writing much lately is because I want everything to be just right. I want to feel that sweet spot of confidence and inspiration; I want to be somewhere that’s exactly the right mix of quiet, comfortable, and interesting but not distracting; I want to be sure what I’ll be writing while also knowing I’ll be flexible enough to accept if the piece doesn’t go exactly as I’d planned; I want to feel surrounded by God and loved enough that I know I’ll be able to trust myself and trust God. I want everything to be just so when I sit down to write. 

And some days, I really am not ready to write, or something else really does come up. And that’s fine.

Most days, however, when all of those factors don’t line up exactly, it’s also fine. It doesn’t feel like it; I feel unsettled enough that it’s harder to sit down to write, or I use it as an excuse for not writing. I can’t do it just so today, so I just won’t do it. I don’t feel capable of perfection, or my best, or the impossible standard that I perceive as my best, or even something that’s ‘good enough.’ 

Like I said, some days I really can’t write well. There’s nothing wrong with that. But most days when I don’t feel ‘ready’ to write, don’t feel like I’ll be good enough–it’s not true. What I write may not be perfect (well–I hate to break it to myself, but duh), but editing exists. There’s value in writing anyway, in listening to the words and to God and sitting in that space of ‘I don’t know what to write’ and ‘Can I really write?’ and ‘What am I doing?’ There’s value in writing anyway. 

Sometimes I just needed to start, just needed to reassure myself that I still remember how to write. Sometimes the words really aren’t ready, or I’m not ready to write them. Sometimes I really just wasn’t ready to write.

But there’s value in writing anyway. 

That’s what I’m learning, and relearning, and relearning, in this season.

The Secret Place

The Secret Place is a devotional magazine that I stumbled onto one morning because there was a whole stack of them sitting on the living room table in my seminary dorm. It’s a devotional full of every day moments, and I’m so honored to be a part of the most recent issue. I’m talking about perfection, because everyone needs to hear about it sometime, and my devotion is slotted for January 29.

Go check it out!

Writing Challenge, Week 3

It’s time for another update! Here’s how the past week went:

Tuesday: 40 minutes

Wednesday: 0 minutes

Thursday: 15 minutes

Friday: 0 minutes

Saturday: 0 minutes

Sunday: 150 minutes

Monday: 25 minutes

As I looked over my times for this week, I was left wondering what I was really trying to accomplish with this challenge. I mean, obviously, I wanted to write more, but as I look at my results this week I remember that writing is intricately bound up with the rest of my life, at least for me. Everything I’m doing is feeling rushed and fragmented and isolated from everything else. And that made writing hard.

Why am I writing? Having a time goal alone isn’t working. It makes it easy to forget that writing feeds my soul. Words feed my soul. Writing gives me joy and life. So, yes, writing every day is a professional goal as I strive to make a part-time career in writing, but writing every day is also a personal and spiritual goal. Writing connects me to God as few other activities do. 

I want to write because writing is good for me. I want to write because it is good for my soul.

I want to write.