Is Writing Your Vocation?

clock 1“I’ve learned two things. First, authors who write books as an avocation just to have fun or tell people they’re published rarely succeed. Secondly, authors who write books as a vocation and take their work seriously usually achieve their goals.”

~Rob Eager, Sell Your Book Like Wildfire

I had a rather obvious, albeit profound epiphany recently.

I am not a stay-at-home mother.

I am a work-at-home mother.

Now, in defense of stay-at-home mother’s everywhere, I am not at all trying to imply that stay-at-home mothers are not working their tails off. Raising children and taking care of a home is incredibly hard work.

What I am saying is that I have a job outside of raising my child and taking care of my house.

I’m a writer.

Right about now, some of you might be thinking, “Um….yeah. You’re just realizing this?”

Not so much realizing as having an attitude shift.

Let me explain.

Two years ago, I was a writer still riding the high of signing my first contract. I was a wife, a mother of a two and a half year old boy, and a full-time 5th grade teacher. The idea of staying home full time to be with my son and write? Heav. En.

So when that idea became a reality, I had all these grand dreams. Of play dates and Bible studies and an immaculate house and my husband NEVER having to do another load of laundry again and writing two books a year. I mean, seriously. I was writing almost two books a year when I was teaching full time. So there was no reason I shouldn’t be able to now that I didn’t have a day job.


First, staying at home with a child or multiple children while running a household is a full time job in and of itself.

Second, something happens when you make that transition from uncontracted author to contracted author.

There are SO many things that creep their way onto your plate that were not there before.

Not just marketing and publicity stuff (although that in and of itself could be a full time job if you let it, for real), but edits and proposals and deadlines and….oh yeah…writing.

It’s taken me a year and a half to finally realize that the time I need to write and reach my goals and build a career will not just naturally work itself out.

I need to treat this like a bona fide job with bona fide hours and I need to protect those hours.

This is how the epiphany came about:

Over the summer, I kept thinking, “Man, once I get these content edits done, I will finally have a break.”

But then immediately following content edits I got line edits and I started thinking, “Once I get line edits done, I will finally have a break.”

But then line edits finished and I had some additional bigger edits and then I needed to write seven devotionals for a promotional thing and then I needed to get two proposals finished and then I had copy edits for Willows in my inbox and that’s when I realized….

That break isn’t coming.

This is a job.

Granted, an amazingly awesome job. But a job.

And for the sake of my sanity and my husband’s sanity and my son’s well being, I need to treat it as such.

So Ryan and I sat down and we wrote up my work schedule. Those working hours are blocks of protected time. I won’t schedule play dates or time with girlfriends during these block. I won’t answer my cell phone (as if I do anyway). I won’t dink around on Pinterest or Facebook (unless it’s for marketing). Ryan will take care of Brogan.

I will either be in my office or at the library, doing writing-related things.

The schedule is posted on our refrigerator.

Now, if a friend calls and wants to get together during one of these times, I simply say, “I’m working then. But how about….(insert a non-working time here).”

Let me tell you, I’m wondering why in the world I didn’t do this a year and a half ago.

Let’s Talk: Are you a fan of scheduling things into your day, or do you prefer to wing it?

24 thoughts on “Is Writing Your Vocation?

  1. First of all, I had to giggle at the cell phone thing. I remember how we were in the cell phone minority at ACFW with our flip phones. πŸ™‚ FYI – I’m now the proud owner of an iPhone. Sorry, flip phone club no more. πŸ™‚

    Second, ahh! I wish I could be organized enough to have working hours. I finished a book this past summer with my husband working 10-12 hour days – so naturally I thought I’d be able to rock the writing thing with him being home all winter (he owns a landscaping business). Not so much. I’m getting LESS writing in with him being home. It’s the weirdest thing. So, yes, I’m going to have to get serious about a writing/working schedule and start treating it like a job. Thanks for the revelation, Katie.

  2. Susan Fryman

    When I worked outside the home I definitely had a schedule with margin built in. Now that I’m disabled everyday when I get up I have an idea of what I would like to get accomplished and am thankful if I’m able to get that small amount done. Interesting post today as always. Blessings, Susan Fryman

  3. Janice Boekhoff

    Katie, I had the same epiphany lately! It has been longer coming for me, probably because it’s hard to consider writing a job when you aren’t getting paid. But scheduling writing time has restored some sanity to my life (well, at least until all the kids got sick and the schedule went out the window).

  4. This is so important for all work-at-home moms and wives, Katie. I’ve been trying to incorporate it for a while now–with limited success. Maybe when I’m a paid writer …
    Thanks for the reminder and encouragement.

  5. Great thoughts, Katie. I totally see the benefit of setting aside time to write. Though I’m still at the breaking-in-the-door stage, which means I never take a writing break, much to my hubby’s chagrin. Will just keep pushing till something happens. And it is a job, on top of the mothering/homeschooling/whatever-else-ing we have to do. You’re so right!

  6. Katie Ganshert

    So interesting to read how everybody else manages it all!

  7. Those of you who are moms with young children at home have my utmost respect and admiration. Much as I wanted to write when my kids were small, I just couldn’t make it happen, and I guess it wasn’t as important to me at the time to really make it a priority. I think you’re definitely doing the right thing with scheduling- as you say, the guilt is gone because you aren’t doing A when you should be doing B. Now that my time is my own, I am less inclined to schedule, but I sort of have one, so some days I work harder than others. πŸ™‚ At this point in my career I have to be careful to overextend myself and try to be ‘super-writer’, what I want to do is produce quality not quantity, and what happens after that is up to God. πŸ™‚

  8. Brilliant thoughts, Katie! I’m very protective of my time…but it wasn’t always so. And since our children aren’t little anymore, I have more time available to write, yet I still must say politely, “No, thank you. I have to pass.”

    A lot of folks are well-meaning, but some think that when we are home, whether we’re WAHM’s or not, that equates to “availability.” Sometimes, it’s a delicate balancing act, but I found that when I started taking my “job” seriously, so did others.

  9. Loved reading this, Katie. I hope to be a work-at-home mom one day too, so this is incredibly helpful to know on this side of things. πŸ™‚

  10. This is great. I’m at the point where I don’t protect my writing hours very well because I don’t consider it a “job” yet. But my fear is that I’ll keep waiting for life to balance out before I take it more seriously. Ugh. I’m pretty sure God, my husband and me have to have a talk about this. πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing about your process.

  11. Oh, I hear you! I went from being a newspaper reporter to a freelance journalist (while raising my young kids). I was working ALL the time! Then, as I began to work on my own books for publication, I had to switch in my head from saying, “I’m a reporter.” To “I’m a writer.” Now I’m working on, “I’m an up-and-coming author.” Still working to meet my goals!

  12. Love your epiphany, Katie. I had the same sort of revelation after reading Jon Acuff’s Quitter.

    I’m a big fan of scheduling my days. I’m getting a little better at winging it when I have to…trying to have a good attitude and be flexible when I’m forced into making schedule adjustments. But overall, I get so much more done when I’m intentional about scheduling in my writing time. πŸ™‚

  13. I prefer to wing it but scheduling your day does have its benefits πŸ™‚

  14. Epiphanies happen at all sorts of times, Katie … and I had one this weekend too. It was this: My best writing time is in the morning. So no more waiting until the afternoon whenI’m dragging to write. I’ll do other stuff — like laundry and errands and yes, even yoga class — in the afternoon. But the morning — that’s my writing time!

  15. Whenever my sons (stinky teenagers) want to get me riled, they come in after school and say, “Hey, mom. How’s the corn crop on farmville?” I think some people wouldn’t understand how the same dishes can be in the sink at the end of the day when I’ve been “home” all day, but if you work at, like, a bank, you don’t get to double-up housework with your job. Defined writing hours are KEY, no matter what shift you work.

  16. Scheduling time to work is the best thing we write-from-home moms can do, for sure. It’s a blessing you’ve got a hubby who has time to care for Brogan. That’s the struggle I have– my husband isn’t always home at great hours for me to work, so I have to schedule around his day or pay a babysitter. It can get tough, but we’re working on making improvements to that. For now, nap time is my sacred time. πŸ™‚

  17. Oh, I’m all about the work-at-home mom! Planning and scheduling makes all the difference. I have set days for things like laundry and groceries. If I don’t, my writing suffers. I’m really blessed to have a supportive husband, too.

    My guess is you’ll be writing a follow-up post in a few months about how much more productive you are. I actually am more available to my kids when I prioritize my writing!

  18. I so appreciate your posts about writing! My son spent the last four months writing at home. I can’t tell you what a fight this has been with the extended family. We see him working diligently at the computer all day long. He has a daily writing schedule and he spends hours “at work” at home. The book he’s been working on has now gone to editing and, while he waits for feedback, he is setting up a blog and marketing. In the meantime, the grandparents and the neighbors are constantly asking me when he’s going to get a “real job”? I keep saying he IS working! LOL He didn’t get paid yet, but he will (Lord willing). AARGH. Thank you, Katie. I will have to share your blog post with him today. I work from home, too, and yes, you have to guard your time. I would be on the phone 24/7 with clients given the opportunity. You have to put up your “closed” sign, even if it’s only in your head. Enjoy your week!

  19. I had that epiphany a few months ago. I have two books on the town I’ve set my MS in, t my left. To my right is my notebook that has all my scribbles in it. And I’m on the Laptop of Doom right now, because I am working.
    Hubs knows it’s a tonne of work because he’s written papers for his work for years. And he knows this job flows at the speed of a glacier.
    But, umm, you didn’t set work during Downton Abbey did you?

    And yes, “Heav. En.” was very funny.

  20. Prefer to wing it, but if (let’s be positive and say *when*) I get published, I’m sure I will have to change my ways. There’s a lot to be said for boundaries and chunks of time dedicated to specific tasks. And it sets a good example for your son to see you doing your job, fulfilling a purpose and a dream. πŸ™‚

    p.s. This made me laugh: “Heav. En.”

  21. Thanks so much for this! You have no idea how much it’s helped. It really got me thinking. Being a uni student and aspiring author, writing gets treated like the hobby next to all the studying. You’ve given me something to think about πŸ™‚

    Tell the World

  22. I schedule. And though I’m (not yet) published I very much see it as a vocation, and hard work.

    But I love it. Through and through.
    ~ Wendy

  23. Katie, I had to come to this as well. About 2 years ago I began working on a schedule and instead of being restrictive, it became incredibly freeing. Gone was the guilt of not working all the time when I was home. It also allowed me to accomplish so much more. Thanks so much for posting about this. I can hardly wait to share the link with my networks.

  24. a balance of plan & then wing…
    But I’m working 40+ hours outside the home.


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