Protecting The Work

Image Credit Victoria Henderson

Image Credit Victoria Henderson

If you’ve read any writings on writing, I’m sure you’ve seen some variation on the theme “protect the work”.  Successful writers carve out time to write and guard that time as sacred.

Yes of course you think as you read it. How will I ever become a writer/meet my writing goals if I don’t sit down and WRITE? Turns out in practice, that’s harder to execute. I don’t know about you, but as a working mom who is also trying to complete the first draft of her novel, I juggle so many balls, it’s hard to execute that protection order. 

But, sometimes? Sometimes I am my own worst enemy. I could protect the work, but I don’t, not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t believe in the value of what I’m doing. That’s PAID work, it MUST come first. Surely that non-profit organization needs my time and efforts more than my silly little story. My brain is a manipulative witch sometimes. I know my strengths and when a client, or group I belong to needs me to fill a role that plays to my strengths instead of protecting the work, I say yes. It’s the path of least resistance and it’s instant gratification. I’ve got a decent track record in marketing, communications and event planning. So I’ll do those for the positive strokes rather than toil on my writing where it’s a long, lonely and uncertain road.  Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of support but no one can get THIS story down on paper but me. 

This all came to a head recently. I feel strongly that non-profits are can be only truly successful when all members contribute. This particular commitment had changed in a way I hadn’t anticipated. As I planned out my day in my head, I realized that in order to address this change, I was going to have to sacrifice my writing time. That stopped me in my tracks. I’ve been on a roll lately, adding on average 1,000 words a day to my WIP 4-5 days a week. To some that seems a paltry sum, but to me, it’s a fantastic amount. More important to me was the consistency. I was loathe to break that streak. 

It was a weird feeling to put MY work first, but I did it and in the end, it was the right decision for me. You know what? The world won’t end and my novel is one step closer to getting finished. 

I realized that as often as I’ve heard “protect the work”, I was still waiting for some magical superhero to come in and guard my writing time, or for someone else to say “no you can’t do that, you have to write”. Heh, turns out, *I* have the super powers. *I* protected the work. 

I did it this time, but I’m not naive.  There will be other times and other challenges. Knowing my personality, I’m always going to need to suck it up and say “but this matters to ME.”  As a matter of fact, if you’ll excuse me, I have some words to write.

Is protecting the work easy for you, or is it a challenge?

30 thoughts on “Protecting The Work

  1. Protecting the work is very much a challenge for me; not because I don’t have the time but because I don’t have the self-confidence. It’s weird – I get paid to write commercials that hundreds of thousands of people hear everyday, but when it comes to my personal work I freeze up and doubt my worth. I’m working on that, though.

  2. I manage to protect the work for one month a year. During November, nothing, absolutely nothing happens that is not basic survival needs related or nano. And I guard that time with a flat polite “I’m sorry I don’t do anything in November” and a smile. The rest of the year….total disaster.

  3. Good on you! It can be difficult to get into a routine with writing, especially when people keep asking you to do things and it’s your first novel. I know prioritizing can be difficult, so good on you for putting your book first! It’ll be so rewarding. And you know what? 1K words a day for four or five days a week is pretty good going!

  4. Great read! I’m not a working Mom indeed I thought I had retired from working. Now I have discovered writing in my retirement I find myself empathizing with you now I am trying to write (unpaid) for my blog, write (paid) as a freelancer and write (so far unpaid) my first book.

  5. Pingback: Protecting The Work | Jacci DeVera

  6. Great post! For me, it’s a constant Challenge, mainly because I put other people’s need before my own. And the fact that I’m a mother, wife, friend and I work fulltime, finding the time to write tends to be a challenging task – almost impossible. At times, I’m good at making excuses. However, I’m working on a good writing routine. Hopefully in time it will all fall into Place.

  7. Found your expression on this site valuable. From the perspective of someone who has lived through it all and come out the other side -Older person remembering……. my comment is this……… No matter what appears to consume your life – keep your perspective……Don’t think of what you ever write as unimportant. My first novel was published when I was 70. I had been writing most of my life. Think about this…….All our lives are fleeting. A sentence on the bottom of a shopping list. Thoughts that come in the shower or the loo. If this is part of you as a person. It is important. Yes a working routine is important……Start with perhaps ten minutes (even if you ve escaped to a cupboard or are up a tree) All you ever really need is a pencil and a piece of paper. Expand your time as natural life evolves and delight in what you have achieved only small snippets at a time. Meaningless STUFF can become writings richest pool of inspiration. Cheers! /even a comment on a newspaper story at least lets someone out there KNOW you too have creative potential. Cheers!

  8. It was a lot easier to set aside Time to Write when I was unemployed. Now that I’m again amongst the gainfully employed, not so much. OK, enough surfing. Closing Firefox, opening Word!

  9. I think it Joan Didion…or maybe Barbara Kingsolver; don’t quote me on this…who said “when I’m writing, I never feel like I need to be doing something else.” I’m the exact opposite. I love writing, but feel as though it is my most luxurious pastime. Best I can say is keep chipping away! At the end of the day no one cares how long it took Michelangelo to sculpt David; the world is just happy to have the sculpture.

  10. most of the time writing is not challenge to me because I am writing mostly with reality basis. But due to this reality so many un wanted incidents affected our personal life also.

  11. Pingback: Chapter 70 – Time for Writing | Northern Chapters

  12. I have a hard time with this. I often feel guilty taking time to write and being away from my son and family. I’ve been trying to work while he sleeps or multitasking at my 9-5 but it’s hard and something I’m co ruining to work on

  13. I am grabbing the time and keeping it sacred now that I am retired. But when I was working for money full-time, I requested and was given a four, 10 hour/day (more like 12 hrs.) work week so i had all of Friday to write and revise and research. Not much but it was all I could manage. Saturdays I ran around like crazy and Sundays I tried to relax a bit. This is much better…bu7t why did it need to take a lifetime to get right to it? Five lkids and a husband who travelled…and my own non-writing career.

  14. Sorry for typos. (PS. I wrote when raising children, too, but it was mainly snatching time to write late at night or when I closed the bedroom door and put a sign on it: DO NOT KNOCK UNLESS THERE IS A LOT OF BLOOD/ IT IS A NEAR DEATH NEED. WRITER AT WORK!

  15. Challenge would be an easy way of putting it. Between school, work and personal life, I’m lucky if I can put together a few haiku a day. I’m working at reorganizing my day to get more time in in the morning, but, not being a morning person, this is akin to yanking a tooth out of a sleeping dragon’s mouth.

  16. Dear Lee.
    “Protect the work”. My sentiments exactly. I have 4 children and a paying job on the side. It is tempting to loose sight of what really matters. I get around it by naming it. Calling writing work because it is. What you don’t practise is impossible to perfect, and in ten years I want to be excellent 😉 So I have two jobs, three if you count children, that are equally important. One pays for food, the other is what sustains my heart. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, it was a liberating read (I’m not crazy liberating) 🙂 And best of luck to you!

  17. It used to be more of a challenge, and it still is. However, I have begun to actually make time for my writing. Although at times, during my writing session, I am distracted by watching my husband building on Minecraft. Lol I am participating in the PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) 2015 challenge. This challenge has helped me to become more disciplined (and diligent) in my writing. I write daily now. I keep my ideas written in a spiral notebook, while I keep my progress update in my blog. You are welcome to check it out.

    Great blog post!

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