Saturday, June 22, 2019

Earn Your Respect as a Writer

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

"Nobody takes me seriously or respects my time."

This seems to be a common refrain I hear from newer writers. They’ve finally worked up the courage to get serious about writing regularly and some of their closest family and friends won’t respect their time. They get calls during the times they’re writing and attitude if they don’t stop to talk. They hear comments that undermine their newfound confidence.

“You can do that, after all you stay home all day.”

“Oh come on, you’ve got nothing better to do.”

And my favorite. “It’s not like you have a real job.”

So what’s a writer to do?

To begin with, take a deep breath and realize this problem isn’t unique to writers. It happens to everyone who works from home—I should know—my husband and I have shared a home office for the past thirteen years. For some people an office isn’t an office if it isn’t off site. Not logical—but an all too common misconception.

I’ve fought this battle—sometimes more successfully than others—and these are the strategies I’ve come up with. 

  • First, make certain you’re setting the example you want followed. By that I mean keep regular hours. Notice I said regular hours—not normal ones. For years I wrote with young children. That meant writing in the afternoons and after they were in bed. Just because you’re working odd hours doesn’t mean you can’t have a schedule. 
  • Second, treat what you’re doing like you’re serious. If you blow off writing for shopping and lunch several times a week your friends and family won’t understand if you don’t stop for them. 
  • Third, be consistent. If you’re not accepting calls from your mother-in-law because you’re working, don’t spend the afternoon on the phone with your best friend. Stay focused on your writing. This is even more critical if your time is at a premium. 
  • Fourth, recruit a support team. Instead of adversaries, enlist your friends and family to help you reach your writing goals. Communicate those goals, clearly and frequently. Ask for their help to reach them. After all, what mother doesn’t want to help her baby succeed! 
  • Fifth, share your victories. Let those that help you share in the joy of goals accomplished and milestones reached. 
These five things have helped me immeasurably over the years. But they’re not a cure-all. There will still be those who think what you do is fun and not work. Expect that, anticipate it even. Knowing it happens to everyone takes away a little bit of the sting.

So what have you found to help when you struggle with sabotaging friends and family?

Don't forget to join the conversation!




  1. Good list, Edie. Picking up on your #5, I credit them by name in the book then gift them a personalized a hard-cover copy with a unique message as soon as it's launched. Since it tends to be the same people, I also let them buy copies at MY cost.
    Jay Wright
    Anderson, SC

  2. I guess I'm the luckiest fella in the world as I married a "creative" and she spends over eight hours per day on her crafts and card-making. Admittedly though, I am her biggest interrupter of time; and am often my own worse "time thief."

  3. Great tips. I mostly stick with that. I don’t let little people play in my office either. If it’s my place of work then there’s no place for legos. Too often at first I found my desk used for crafts and things missing so now it’s pretty much off limits.
    That was a big way to get my family to respect my time and space.

  4. I have yet to find a solution for the disrespectful cat who insists on lying between the computer screen and the keyboard, so that he can take swipes at the hand that is controlling the touchpad.

  5. Hi Edie,

    This is a great list Edie! Lately, I’ve been writing a schedule in my bullet journal and doing it more deliberately. I also listen to motivational speakers 1-3 hours per day as I’m in lull times such as putting on makeup or washing the dishes. A recent podcast I listened to recommended, know who you’re time-bullies are. I’ll definitely be fumbling for the next podcast for what to do about them, and keep you posted.


  6. You're right that it's a never ending fight to protect your time, Edie. Your suggestions to help in this area are great ones, too. ... I will add that I found that the more I wrote and the more books I had published the more people began to see me as a "real author." However, people still tend to not view me as a full time professional as they did more easily with being a college faculty member. I really think it's because they have no clue what's involved in researching, planning, and writing a book or the time that's involved in this profession ... including the marketing, signings, speaking events, and more that are a part of the job. Frankly, the key is to take yourself seriously, to see yourself as a professional and to work as a professional ... and as you said, to protect your time.