Shannon Stacey

Protecting the work

It’s a phrase I’ve heard a lot in the writing corners of the romance community: Protect the work.

I’ve seen it applied to several situations, including protecting your work (voice) from over-stepping critique partners/groups. But when I think of “protect the work”, I think of the essay by Jennifer Crusie, originally written as a PAN column for the 9/98 issue of RWR. It’s an excellent blog post and, if you write, you should go read it if you haven’t.

Essentially, protecting the work means making it a priority, not the thing you do when everything else is done. Because guess what. Everything else is never done.

Yesterday I had my calendar and to-do list open at the same time as the Excel sheet I use to track my daily word count, which has a column for noting writing-related-but-not-actual-writing tasks done, and it hit me. I haven’t been protecting the work. As a matter of fact, I’ve thrown the work under a bus and backed over it a few times.

There were more days than I care to count in November in which the “business of writing” took priority over “writing” and if you have enough of those days, you won’t have to worry about it anymore because without the writing, there’s no business of writing. This is bad.

And it’s not done. I’ve still got five blog guest posts to write and updates to do and the promotional info for Holiday Sparks to fill out and then there’s the thing I always put off because it should be easy, but it’s not and it’s confusing and makes my head hurt. Oh, and guess who forgot to do her own damn newsletter again. A contest post to wrap my head around by Monday (which, ohmigod, you guys, will be awesome!) and it isn’t complicated or difficult, but it burns up some time and brain cells.

Oh, and Christmas is coming.

There comes a time, and that time for me is now, when a writer has to protect the work. I’m going to take the next couple of days to clear that to-do list as much as I possibly can and then I’ll have to be done. The only thing I’ll be committing to for the remainder of the year is my book and my blog. It’s not a matter of deadline (yet, though it would be if I continued on as November went), but a matter of protecting my work and my creativity. A matter of putting the writing at the top of the priority totem pole where it belongs, not at the bottom after everything else. Because, like I said, everything else just keeps on coming.

Writing. It’s what I do. And, in December, it’s what I’m going to do first.

5 comments to “Protecting the work”

  1. Annmarie
      · November 27th, 2010 at 2:09 pm · Link


    I’d die without your books. Do anything necessary to protect your ability to write them!

  2. Rae Renzi
      · November 27th, 2010 at 3:44 pm · Link

    Oh, good timing with a lesson we all have to relearn now and again. The dog has a very long tail, and when it gets to wagging, well, the dog has to dig in and keep its feet on the ground. Thanks, Shannon.

  3. nightsmusic
      · November 27th, 2010 at 5:53 pm · Link

    Great kick in the arse for me. Thanks for the timely post.

    I’d be interested to see the layout of your spreadsheet and how you use it someday, if you’re so inclined :mrgreen:

  4. Christine Bell
      · November 27th, 2010 at 2:49 pm · Link

    Wow. I canna tell you how much I needed this right now. I had just been (half)joking the other day that NaNo for me has been National No Writing month. I have to prioritize better because as much as I know I need to guest blog, do contests and other promo, and network and make sure my website looks good and stay on top of paperwork etc, soon. there won’t be any of that to do anymore if I don’t get to the actual writing. Thanks for the wake up call.

  5. Shannon
      · December 2nd, 2010 at 10:35 pm · Link

    If you’re reading this, you’re not working! How come you’re not working? :lol:

    I’ll do a post on my spreadsheet next week. It’s fairly simple because I’m excel-challenged, but it has all the info I need. Some authors have really intense spreadsheets for this, but it was going to take me longer to learn how to use them than it does to write a book.

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