Friday, February 20, 2015

Writing is My Job, Really by Sherri Shackelford

Sherri Shackleford

Have you experienced situations where people haven’t understood that being a writer doesn’t mean you have a hobby or that you have countless hours of free time?  Take encouragement from the fact that you’re not alone! Author Sherri Shackleford shares a personal experience.  ~ Dawn

Writing is My Job, Really

My husband has always been wonderful about my writing career. He was supportive during the four years when I was writing and earning no money. He was supportive after I finally published and started earning a little bit of money. He respects my writing time, and he encourages me to attend conferences—even though conferences can be expensive.

Recently, though, I had to explain that Writing Is My Job, Really. 

I had a super tight deadline. I was behind on the book when my editor asked me to participate in another project. The timing meant I needed my current book signed, sealed and delivered ASAP. Unfortunately, I was writing one of THOSE books. You know THAT book. The one that just won’t come together no matter how hard you try?

The deadline was looming and I had a long…long…long way to go. Despite everything, the kids were in school and I had my time blocked down to the minute. I could make the deadline if I worked hard. Then my youngest son caught the flu. There was no way I was making my deadline while watching a sick kid.

I told my husband I had to work, and he took the day off. Great, right? Then he said, “Don’t go on Facebook or anything. I told everyone at work you were sick.”


Um. No. I’m not sick. I’m working.

When the kids are sick, or have appointments, or have days off school—I handle things. Sure, my job is more flexible, I work from home, and I make about 1/10th of my husband’s income. No problem. 

But writing is a job. It’s my job. Really.

That’s when my husband and I had a talk. Even though my job is flexible and creative, it IS a job. I have people who count on me: editors, agents, art departments. My job is work. If someone thinks it’s not work, then I dare that person to write a 70,000-word book in two months. Trust me, it’s work.

If I were a doctor who had to stay late, or an engineer with a big project, or an accountant during tax season, he wouldn’t say I was ‘sick’. He’d say, “Sherri can’t take the time off work right now. She’s really swamped. I have to stay home with my sick child.”

But a writer with a deadline? Nope. That doesn’t count. She’s sick.

I have deadlines, on average, two or three times a year. Okay, usually two times a year. Let’s be honest. I’m one of those people who works right up until the deadline. I can always fix or rework something. The manuscript must be pried out of my fingers, or I’ll never let go. Twice a year, I’m swamped with work.

I realize I’m not Dan Brown or JK Rowling or Stephen King, but here’s what I asked my husband. “Do you think Tabitha King has would ever call in and said, “Stephen is sick” instead of “Stephen has a deadline”? If I was an accountant during tax season would you say, “Sherri is sick” or “Sherri can’t take time off work right now”?

As an author and a woman, I fight two battles. I fight the battle of being the primary care giver of the children, and I fight for respect of my job. A job a lot of people don’t always take seriously. After our talk, I think my husband had one of those ‘lightbulb’ moments. I think we’re on the right track again.

Writing is a job. It’s my job. Really.

I’m not sick. I’m working. 

Make-believe betrothal

Rock-solid and reliable, confirmed bachelor Caleb McCoy thought nothing could rattle him—until he discovers he needs to pose as Anna Bishop's intended groom. After saving her life, his honorable code bid Caleb watch over the innocent beauty. And a pretend engagement is the only way to protect her from further harm.

Raised by a single mother and suffragist, Anna doesn't think much of marriage—and she certainly doesn't plan to try it herself. But playing Caleb's blushing bride-to-be makes her rethink her independent ways, because their make-believe romance is becoming far too real…

 Prairie Courtships: Romance on the range

Sherri Shackelford is an award-winning author of inspirational, Christian romance novels for her dream publisher, Harlequin.

 A wife and mother of three, Sherri’s hobbies include collecting mismatched socks, discovering new ways to avoid cleaning, and standing in the middle of the room while thinking, “Why did I just come in here?” A reformed pessimist and recent hopeful romantic, Sherri has a passion for writing. Her books are fun and fast-paced, with plenty of heart and soul.

Sherri is putting the final touches on three more books for her Cimarron Springs series, and will release all the details as soon as they are available.

You can learn more and connect with Sherri at these sites:



  1. Hi Sherri. Love this post. I have a very supportive husband. I've heard him tell people she won't be able to go to [event], she's working. But I had someone ask me to do something for them one day a week. I said I didn't have the time. The person said, "I thought you said you were a writer, don't you work at home? I was shocked at the time, because I didn't think people REALLY said such things.

  2. We were talking on facebook about how office staff will change 'self employed' to 'homemaker'. Again, makes me wonder if they do that to the men?

    1. That would never happen! And aren't we ALL homemakers, regardless of whether we work full time out of the home or not? Unless someone has a maid, a cook, a nanny, and a gardener ...

  3. Thank you so much, Sherri! I have the same issue even though I'm pre-pubbed. It's hard for family and friends to understand that just because I haven't published a book, doesn't mean I'm not writing. I do consider it my job, but convincing others of that is an issue.

    Now I can point them to this post. :)

  4. Amen! My husband, family, and close friends are at the point of taking me seriously and are supportive. But there are still those situations when it feels like they believe I have unlimited "flexible" time.

  5. Thanks for sharing this! I'm actually looking at it from the opposite standpoint. I work full time outside of the home. I also volunteer, and I'm working on my Master's. But I've got a calling from God to write fiction. I make each of these other 'roles' or 'jobs' of mine a priority. I block out time, I mark deadlines on my calendar, I arrange sitters if they will take me away from home. But I try to squeeze writing in on the side, and I never seem to 'find' the time. I need to start treating it like a 'real job,' or it will never become a real job!


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