Friday, July 15, 2011

The Committed Writer

The committed writer makes many sacrifices with no guarantees of rewards.

Willingness to not be understood

I write full time and stay at home with my kids. Many people do not understand my job or even know if it is a job, considering I don't get paid for it. If you're an aspiring writer, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Since I set aside hours to volunteer at school and I drive my kids to practices and games, it appears I have an open schedule. Maybe you work a full-time job? Many people probably have no clue how much you give up to make time for your writing.

I'm blessed. My friends and family do understand and encourage me, but I struggle to get everything done.


If you're like me, you spend a large chunk of every weekday--winter, summer, spring, and fall, writing and all the responsibilities that come with it. Building a fiction platform can't be set aside for months like a half-finished quilt. Story ideas still need to be written down, plots fleshed out, manuscripts revised, queries polished, proposals created. Right now, during the summer, I struggle the most.

But the mornings when I'm tempted to shut the alarm off and sleep an extra seven hours, I open my eyes, brew the coffee and turn on my laptop. On days my kids have sports' practices, I squeeze my writing in even if it means we don't go to the pool. Every member of my family sacrifices for my writing.

Worth it

It's commitment. The day-in, day-out. The knowledge that I could be using those hours either having more fun with my kids or working at a part-time job makes the sacrifice all the sweeter. Writing is my privilege, my passion, and I am willing to not be understood by acquaintances, to let my children figure out how to have their own fun every morning, and to not have the extra income if it means I have a shot at succeeding in the one profession I don't want to live without.

What do you sacrifice in order to write?

Have a great weekend!


  1. I sacrifice any other creative hobbies. But I don't mind. Summer is the hardest for me too but I go into it with realistic goals knowing that breaks are good!

  2. Putting pictures together in albums. My poor son....

    We definitely have to sacrifice stuff. Every dream worth dreaming involves sacrifice. :)

  3. Right now, I'm having to sacrifice more of the writing for the family - and it's a terribly hard choice, but until the littles are a bit older and can understand the concept of "Mamma's writing time," or my husband is no longer trying to balance full-time work and preparing for seminary ... Well, I'm willing to sacrifice many thing in order to be a good writer, good wife, and good mommy, but my mental health is not one. I can't tell the kids and husband to wait a year or two so ... it's the writing as a career that's being put on hold. C'est la vive!

  4. I feel I sacrifice writing because of my full time job! But I have to work, being on my own. I just have to be okay with running many weeks and even months behind on life stuff such as home maintenance. And I have to sacrifice blogging time lately to keep working on my first draft. But I can't sacrifice the inspiration I receive from places such as yours.

  5. I sacrifice time, sleep, a billions girls' nights. I try to think that one day my kids will see that sacrificing things for what we love and dream about it is worth it, and they'll have the stamina to chase after what they're dreaming about. I want them to see it takes hard work and diligence, and lots of prayer to make things happen!

    Or maybe they'll grow up and simply say, "Remember when Mom wouldn't play board games with us because she was writing?" and resent me. :) lol

  6. I sacrifice a clean house and many nights out with the girls. I also sacrifice stuff I could have and things we could do if I were to work the paying job more full time.

    It's worth it, because I love the rewards I get from writing.

  7. Good morning!

    Laura: Same here. I'm going to attempt to get my three-year old crochet project out this fall. I do miss hobbies!

    Katie: It's so funny you said that, because just yesterday I finally ordered seven months' worth of pictures! Lately, I can't even get them printed, let alone put in albums!

    ELouise: Congrats to your hubby for working toward his dreams too! Don't feel bad. I set writing on the back burner while my kids were small, and I don't regret it. You WILL have time to write when they're a little bit older.

    Lynn: It's hard when you have a full-time job. I give you so much credit for devoting time to your writing. It's worth it!

    Jessica: Ha! Even if I wasn't writing, I wouldn't want to play board games all day! There's only so much Monopoly this mom can take!

    Heather: Absolutely. It's worth it to me too. And I hope someday I'll be able to fit more of my own life back into life--you know what I mean?

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. Oh, how every author could lament this one! I guess right about now I'm sacrificing a little (okay, a lot) of sleep, scrapbooking, and some personal time. I'm blessed, too, Jill. I have a very understanding family.

    The best one I've heard was from an acquaintance when asked what my profession was..."What do you do for a REAL living?"

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  10. I sacrifice sleep, primarily. Because the kiddo doesn't quite get that my desk is where I work, not just a place I sit now and then! :)

    But a lot of things fall behind - I'm still trying to get Christmas scrapbook pages done, still trying to finish that quilt I started 2 years ago and the list goes on.

    I'm very stingy with my writing, though. That is something I don't 'put off'. Writing comes after my family but before just about everything else.

  11. I sacrifice laundry and my poor, always put off another year landscaping project. Over the past few years I've started earning actual $ for writing nonfiction, which helps with the "what do you really do?" questions, but makes it harder to get to the fiction. It's all a balance!

    I hear you on those photos--I probably have a year's worth waiting to go into albums!

  12. I sacrifice things like cleaning and figuring out how to decorate my home. There are moments where I feel like I'm living the college student life again, in a not so tidy apartment with cold sandwiches for dinner, lol. However, my husband understands my commitment to writing (even if most people are puzzled) and he always supports me.

    Have a wonderful weekend, Jill!

  13. I sacrificed time away from some things that I can't get back...

  14. I sacrifice TV and dedication to other hobbies. I'd love to get involved in collaging and mixed media, but don't have the time.

  15. Great post and I think this is especially true for those of us whom are aspiring writers seeking traditional routes of publication as well. We're writing and hoping, querying and proposing, reading and building a platform but with no guarantees that we will ever find representation or a contract.

    I love all things creative and I especially love writing. I sacrifice a lot of free time and sleep in the pursuit of this dream but that's how it's supposed to work. Nothing is supposed to come easy... :)

    First time visitor to your blog and I love it!

    Jenny Lee Sulpizio

  16. This is so funny, Jill, because I just wrote a post for Monday with this exact same theme. I sacrifice a lot so I can write, but it's worth it!

  17. My sanity! Just kidding. I guess writing is what keeps me sane. I sacrifice sleeping in because I do most of my writing around 5am.

  18. Cynthia: Time and scrapbooking--I get it! I have 257 pictures to put in albums. *sigh* And I can't believe someone said that to you!! Uggh!

    Kristi: Those sweet kids--they don't understand our desks, at least not when they're little! You'll get back to scrapbooking, don't worry!

    Cheryl: I like the idea of sacrificing laundry (and dishes, mopping, etc...)! Maybe you'll get a little more landscaping done in the fall? It's better weather anyway!

    Brandi: That's so funny because I was thinking along the same lines recently, like I feel time-crunched the way I did in college. Funny!

    Loree: You bring up a good point. With everything we sacrifice, we have to weigh if it's worth it. *hugs*

    Melissa: Sounds artistic! I don't sacrifice as much TV anymore. We love Swamp People and Pawn Stars!

    Jenny: Welcome! I agree with you. We sacrifice so much to hold on to this dream. I'm so glad you popped in!

    Natalie: Oh yeah! I know you do. Raising little kids and writing is a huge challenge. :)

    Julie: So many of our friends use your strategy! I give you a lot of credit--it's hard getting out of bed that early!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  19. I made some sacrifices this afternoon that I wasn't really thrilled with (my daughter wanted to spend some time with me, but there was something I *had* to do.) I'm going to make up for it now. :) I usually end up feeling guilty either way...

  20. You've articulated something so universal with we at-home writers - do people understand and/or respect that it is a job.

    Among the other sacrifices listed above, I would add phone calls. Often, if it's not my kids' school calling, I will not answer the phone during the day. Friends and family have come around to understanding this. :)

  21. I love that last paragraph! It's a great reminder of why all the sacrificing is worth it.

  22. Love this! And I'm "write" there with you! People often think that I have a ton of free time, but I am busier than most anyone I know! Full time mom + full time writer = 2 full time jobs!

    I usually give up sleep. Stay up waaaaay too late and get up waaaaaay to early. I have the dark circles to prove it!

    And you're correct- everyone in the family sacrifices. Praying that it will all be worth it! :)

  23. Hi Jill. Am I the only guy here? I enjoy your blog and great questions for comment.

    I want to be honest. I sacrifice very little for something that makes me live. Oh, I've given up a lot of stuff-- but it was just stuff.

    If I've sacrifice anything its my writing for the dreaded marketing and promoting that must be done.

    I think just like many of us here, I write because I have to. The feelings I get and release that is brought on by writing something good is worth all the frustrations. If I can only write an hour or 8 hours I savor every word.

  24. Jill, I read this post nodding "yep, yep, yep." As we've discussed, we have so much in common. It does seem illogical to work so hard at something that has no guarantees of paying off, and yet it's something that matters to me and I enjoy it. Thankfully my husband and sons "get it."

  25. Elizabeth: Oh have I been there this summer! We usually head to the art museum, zoo, and local history museum, but we haven't had time, and I haven't been willing to give up my writing hours. I'm working hard to clear the month of August. We just do the best we can.

    Karen: Absolutely. I usually reserve the phone for afternoons, otherwise my morning writing time disappears. ;)

    Peggy: Not everyone pursues their dreams--we're blessed!!

    Jennifer H: I've set limits. I would love to drive every field trip and help wherever I can, but I weigh each opportunity carefully. My problem is me--I struggle to cede some of my at-home-mom duties!

    Dannie: Ha! You're the only guy today--congrats! And I'm with you, I don't mind giving up stuff. I've learned to really embrace and enjoy the social media thing, but it's another balancing act. :)

    Julie: We are alike!! And my family gets it too. What a blessing!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  26. Nice post. Your children see you doing something you love and they see you giving up things you may like to do. It is a great lesson for them that speaks louder than, "go for your dream." You are living that out.

  27. Excellent post, Jill. Thanks for sharing your sacrifices with us.

    I have sacrificed my vegetable garden, which I loved, and time spent reading and crocheting. I still have tomato plants; I read, but not as many book for leisure--now I read to educate myself to be a better writer; and I've given up crocheting altogether. I also don't go to lunch with friends as often; I use my lunch breaks to work.

    These are my choices to grow my career, but they are sacrifices.

  28. Jill:
    I have given up trying to be everyone's 'best freind'. I used to be a people person. Felt I had to be around people, was unhappy when hubby and son were both gone.
    But I realized that writing is a solitary endeavor. I learned that I liked having my solitude. I have evolved into someone who almost appreciates being alone.

  29. I can't say what I purposely give up in order to write. Maybe I give up what I would consider "relaxing time" in the evenings after work. Instead I try to get to work on some writing and on the weekends I try to get some blogging done so of course I use up some time that could be dedicated to napping, watching a movie, etc.

    But when I get going, writing can be fun and I don't miss the "relaxing time" so much.

  30. Very well said Jill. I'm certain my fiancee can say how many times she's read and re-read my MS to give that extra insight. It is not a job, a passion or a privilege. It is a calling though.

  31. Very well said Jill. Writing is not really a job, a passion or a hobby. It's a calling. We make sacrifices, we endure because we couldn't honestly see our lives any other way.


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