It's a Career; Protect It
“Hey, I need you to run a few errands for me tomorrow,” she said as she handed me a four page list.
I didn’t take it. “I don’t have time tomorrow. I’m working.”
“You sit on the porch all day, drinking coffee and smoking cigars. This won’t take long.”
Okay, to be honest, that conversation never took place. The girls know better. Besides, I screw up most errands anyway, so they prefer to do them themselves. However, not everyone understands. The only way to get them to take me seriously is to take it seriously myself. I have to think of my writing as a career and not a hobby. Furthermore, it’s a fulltime gig and not a part time thing I do during the commercial breaks of Castle.
So, with that in mind, allow me to clear up some misconceptions. I am not a house husband. I find it a little ironic that I wrote that line while sitting in the car loop at the 8-year old’s school waiting for her to escape her classroom prison. However, it is not my job to stay home and clean the house, do laundry, or prepare the evening meal. The girls value their possessions and stomachs more than that. Not that there is anything wrong with people who do that, of course, which is a stereotype I have had to fight hard to release. It’s always been my mindset that men provide the bacon and take care of their family whether the wife worked or not. It was his responsibility. Society has changed, however, and so must my viewpoints.
Nor am I above pitching in and cleaning up around the house. I happen to do that all the time because clutter drives me nuts. It’s just not my responsibility or what I do during the day. I have a job. I’m a writer.
I have also not taken an early retirement. To be honest, I don’t ever foresee me retiring from my writing career. There are too many stories begging to be told and enemies to be written into stories and killed off.
Furthermore, I am not on permanent vacation. I do, however, have the ability to work wherever I desire. I am not trapped into the routine of having to walk into a designated office day after day. It’s a luxurious freedom that I enjoy and take full advantage of.
People will start taking your writing time seriously because you do. They may not understand what all is involved in your work day, but that’s okay. You probably don’t know what happens during theirs. They don’t have to comprehend it. They just need to respect the time. When that phone call comes in inviting you to go off during the day, all you have to say is “That sounds great. I get off at five. I’ll see you then.” Then close the door. Eventually, they will understand that you go to work every day just like they do, even if you never leave your house.
Not all will understand that reading, zoning out, and marketing via social media sites are all a part of your work day. You may hear, “You couldn’t answer my phone call, but you could post to Facebook all morning?” You’ll have to teach them that one is work and the other can wait until you “clock out.” I try to only answer my phone during the day for the girls, because if I don’t I know I won’t eat dinner that night. The others I can return messages to during a break or later that night. Odds are you wouldn’t be spending all day on personal business if you had to report to a normal 9 to 5 job, so why treat your writing career any different? Most of your friends have those rules, as well. They should understand.
I have done several things to aid me with my mindset that this is a fulltime career. I’ve set up my mobile office, I dress as if I’m going to work, and when it’s time to work, I treat it as such and show up. Grant it, I have the flexibility to help family and friends if something comes up that just can’t wait and I can play taxi to the girls and the 8-year old as needed, but those need to be exceptions and not the rule. Once you treat it as such, then so will everyone else.
While there will be those closest to you who will ask how your writing is going, they won’t make sure you’re in your chair every day putting words to paper. You have to do that yourself and the best way to do it is to put your mind in a place that says you are there to work. Limit your distractions and protect your time, and as they see you mean business, they’ll help you treat it as a business. There will be time enough for vacations when your writing has taken off, and it will in time, because you valued your time.
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