Writing can be a business in and of itself. Some writers treat it as a hobby, some treat it as a dream. But once you’ve made your mind up that being publishedis your end goal, writing is a business, and it should be treated as such.
When I first started writing with the intent on being published, I had a hard time getting my husband to understand that this was a job. “You’re not making any money,” he’d say. It didn’t matter that I tried to explain that this was the type of job you got paid for only if someone published your manuscript or you decided to self-publish. Oh, my husband supported my pursuit of my dream. He didn’t mind watching the kids for a couple of hours so I could write. He didn’t mind that I went to a conference or two. But he also didn’t respect my writing time, or even recognize my writing time as “business hours” to be kept on a regular basis.
For many years, I did treat my writing as a hobby. It was something that I dabbled in when I had the time or inspiration. The more I understood my calling, the more I desired to pursue writing on a more serious level. In 2009, I officially made the jump. I was a writer (in the career sense of the word). I started buying books, taking classes, going to conferences. I got more serious about finding a routine, writing every day, and developing my craft.
Still, I couldn’t make my husband commit to seeing writing as a job. I couldn’t get my family to accept that I needed to time to focus, to work. Sure, hubby still allowed me time to write. We even sat down and agreed to set times for me to write. But, those hours weren’t adhered to. If something came up, something came up. The only time I knew I could write was after the kids went to bed at night.
Writing at night was like cleaning up the playroom in the middle of the day for me–pointless and ineffectual. By the time eight o’clock rolled around, I was exhausted. My body hurt. More often than not, my head hurt. All I wanted to do was to kick back with the TV or a good book. I’d have to force myself to write, and more often than not, it didn’t work. I sat down with my husband again, trying to explain that this was not working. We agreed on another plan.
In fact, it wasn’t until recently that my husband and my family have come to understand and respect my writing time. They finally see the picture with me–well, my husband does anyway. The girls laugh when I say I’m going to work, when really I’m just going upstairs to my office. But they are beginning to understand that when the door is closed, Mommy is working, and shouldn’t be bothered.
Things I’ve learned along the way:
1. Communication is key. My husband and I had to be on the same level. There were many times that I thought he undersood what I meant by “work,” but his definition was very different.
2. You will be judged by your commitment level. Many times, my husband would make plans that interrupted my writing time, and I would get frustrated because I didn’t feel he respected the agreed upon work hours. However, I came to realize that how could I expect him to respect the writing time, if I didn’t. Too many times I’d talk myself out of writing for one reason or another. “I don’t feel good,” “I’m tired,” “I need to do ________.” If I wanted my husband to treat writing as a job, then I needed to as well.
3. Make sure your writing time is reasonable for both you and your family. It’s hard for the family to commit to a schedule/routine if it is not working for them. You may have to tweak the schedule over the seasons as the needs of the family change. Right now, I’m writing in the mornings from 5:30 til 7, and then editing from 1-4 (or 5, depending on the day of the week) in the afternoon. On Saturdays, I write from 5:30 until 1:30. This is a good schedule for us because I find I write better first thing in the morning, and the editing comes at a lull time in most of our activities for the day.
4. My husband has a thing about money. Once I had that first editing client who gave me real money, he was more than happy to commit and respect my editing time. He really does try to leave me alone and keep the kids out of my hair. He works his/our schedule around my writing/editing time. Man, why couldn’t I talk someone into giving me some money a couple of years ago!
5. Be flexible. Even with the best laid plans, nothing is going to be perfect when the family is involved. The girls still run into the office in the middle of work hours asking for one thing or another (even though their dad is downstairs). Connor sneaks past Ray and runs into the office just to be silly. Every now and again, my husband and I are just too sick. Life happens, and it’s better to go with the flow than to stress myself out.
6. Dream big! There’s nothing like recognizing your dream and going for it full throttle. Dream big and make it visiual. Hang stuff on your walls, keep mementos by your desk, your nightstand. Be open to God working magic in your life.
The most important lessonI learned is that if I respect my job, so will my family. I can’t expect them to do something that I am not willing to do myself. Now, I think, it’s time to get down to work. I still have 52 minutes to get some words on the page.