Sunday, May 22, 2005


This morning you finally have two hours to sit at your computer and work on your latest WIP. Giddy with excitement you plant B.I.C. and prepare to write. R.i.n.g....r.i.n.g! Your daughter's school is calling. Today is the class party and they don't have any refreshments. You are the only mother that doesn't "work". They are counting on you to bring the refreshments and help with the party.

Do you (A)Apologize, explaining that you are a writer and these are your work hours. (B)Ask how many cupcakes they need, grab your purse, and hurry off to deliver the goodies to the school.

If you answered (A) you don't need to read this. You are on the right track. If you answered (B) shame on you! You can't expect others to respect your work if you don't respect it yourself. Dr. Phil McGraw says, "You teach others how to treat you." It is so true. If you are willing to set your work aside everytime something else comes up that wants your attention you are not acting like a professional and you will never find time to write.

Being a professional writer doesn't mean you are published. You must act like a professional in order to get published. A professional writer respects his/her writing time and doesn't allow others to degrade or minimize its importance. If you don't think your writing time is valuable how can you expect others to respect it?

Schedule your writing time and stick to that schedule. So what if the other mothers work? You work too. Treat writing in a professional manner. Have business cards printed, or print them yourself. Hand them out to everyone. It will make you feel more like this is your job and it should impress others with that fact, too. Don't spend writing time chatting with friends and relatives on the phone. Let callers know that this time is set aside for writing. Tell them you will call them back after "work".

If your family won't honor your writing time you may have to be creative. Explain your need to work without interruption. Shut the door to keep them out. Post a sign "Writer at Work". If all else fails, lock the door. With any luck they will begin to respect the job as much as you do. Then you will be amazed how much writing you can accomplish.

(c) Sharon A. Soffe 2005


Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

I'm not a mom, but I do understand that if the school calls, you have to answer because there could be an emergency involving the children.

However, I would not apologize and explain I'm a writer. Men never apologize for having a job, calling, etc., and they get more respect in publishing and the world in general. I would say, kindly but firmly, "You are mistaken. I do work."

I realize there are times to be gracious, but this is a time to not give an inch. Certain duties are owed to one's family and community, but duties also are owed to one's self and one's art, which is in fact, a gift to the larger community.

Beyond phone calls like that, which could mean a crisis of some sort (child/elder care, etc.), don't answer the phone until you're done. We have the technology. Screen.

Shari Lyle-Soffe said...


You are right it would be better to screen your calls. I didn't mean to imply that anyone should apologize for being a writer, simply to apologize for being unable to help with the event. I stand corrected!

The important thing is to let people know that you do "work" and that they will have to respect your time as you do.

Thanks for your comments.

Donna J. Shepherd said...

I get no respect. lol! Or at least I didn't until I actually got paid a few times.

The other thing that happens a lot is if you tell someone you're a writer, nine times out of ten, you'll get the reply, "Oh, really? I am, too!"

We just have to keep plugging along. I have no schedule, and it is to my detriment. I need to get more organized. Maybe we can pray for each other?

Now I have to get back to 'work.' :)

Shari Lyle-Soffe said...

You bet! Prayer has seen me through a lot.

We all go though this. Usually they want to know what you have written, and if you aren't J.K. Rowling they are not impressed. The truth is even J.K. was a writer before she was published. Credits are not the only measure of who is a writer and who isn't.