Thursday, March 5, 2015

Even Though You're Not Published... by Susan Tuttle

Susan Tuttle
About two weeks ago Sherri Shackelford wrote this amazing post here titled Writing is My Job, Really. It was one of those posts where you nod your way through it, adding a moment of laughter or a “yes” along the way. When I finished I shared it on other social media sites because as a writer I completely agreed with her points. Then I heard the question, “But what about those of us who aren’t published yet? Is it still our job?” 

I can’t say the question was a surprise. In the back of my mind (and sometimes the front—just ask my husband) I wonder the same thing. Even while I was nodding my head with Sherri’s post, a little voice inside kept saying the same thing, “This doesn’t apply until you’re published.” 

Can we all just agree to squash that voice? We’ve all heard it. For some of us it might be louder, for others it’s a continued quiet whisper, but its impact is all the same. It undermines that which we are called to do. If we want to move forward in our writing career, it is going to take work. It’s going to be our job, even when we aren’t getting paid for it. And we’ll need to approach it as such if we want others to see it that way—and**spoiler alert**even when we do see it as a job, others still might not. 

But that’s all part of this writing life. We cannot change how those around us see our writing, we can only change how we approach it. The only guarantee? If you don’t take it serious, those around you won’t either. 

So map out a schedule. Put it in ink and stick to it. I’ve found there are days I can block off a few hours and days where I only find thirty minutes—whatever it is, claim it. Find a writing space; the library, coffee shop, or your bedroom with the door locked. Invest in books that will hone your writing craft, and spend time reading them and applying what you learn. Join a writer’s group or critique group to thicken your skin. Getting your work torn apart—no matter how constructively—is never fun but always helpful (and I like to think it prepares you for the inevitable bad review some day.) 

Bottom line? It doesn’t matter how others see your writing career—it is just that, a career. This is just one stage of it. It’s a long road to publication, but if you don’t start honing your craft and taking it seriously, you’ll never get there. And with every habit you create you’re only making yourself a better writer who will be that much more prepared when the day finally comes. 

Don’t give in. Don’t give up. And don’t call it a hobby—it’s your job, really.

Susan Tuttle is a homeschooling mom of three who is crazy about coffee, dark chocolate, and words—both reading and writing them. Combine that love of words with her passion for leading women to a life-changing encounter with Christ, and you’ll find her crafting Inspirational Contemporary Romance stories laced with humor, love, and healing transformations. When not cheering on her Ironman hubby, chasing the family dog, or tackling complex math problems to teach her kids (yes, even the third grader), you can catch Susan at her blog, Steps.


  1. Good points, Susan. I've been writing and publishing for years, but not novels. However, when I found myself pursuing the publication of novel-length stories in 2009, I set full-time job hours (my child was mostly grown by then). Because I found I had so much to learn, it was like going to school, so I began to think of what I was doing as going to college without the parties and huge tuition. :) It made all the time I spent at the computer easier to justify in my mind.

    1. I love that! Approaching it as college w/o the parties and tuition. LOL. Perfect, Sandra!

  2. Beautiful post — thanks for sharing! I'm a working mom, a volunteer, and a master's student, so carving out time for my writing is a struggle. But if I don't plan for success, I'll never reach my goal!

    1. :) YES! Carve out time! For my current WIP I'm doing something I swore I'd never do, and that's stealing even 15 minutes if I have them. I always thought I needed blocks of time. I still aim for blocks, but as a homeschooling mom who's often in taxi mode, I found in this season I can't always find large blocks, so I have to take my time where I can snag it!

  3. Spot on, Susan! Don't just squash that voice. Stomp on it because it's a long road facing those same issues even AFTER the contract. lol.
    Oh, and Sandy, what a fabulous perspective!

  4. Great post, Susan. I think it is imperative to make it your job while unpublished or you'll never move to published.


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