I’m currently taking a writing and blogging sabbatical due to family health issues. For now, I’ll repost selected articles from my Fiction Writing School.
When Loved Ones Don’t Support Your Writing
Written By Shayla Raquel
This entire article was almost erased before I even started it. Each time I write, I tell myself, Be honest. Be honest. Be honest. I didn’t want to tell this story, but my hope is that it’ll encourage you.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have many people in my life who have supported my writing. They have cheered me on, purchased signed copies, and introduced me to new people with “SHE’S AN AUTHOR!” It is the best.
But, like you I’m sure, I used to have someone in my life who never supported my writing. Never “understood” it, so to speak. Just didn’t “get it.” I would make jokes about her apathy and say things like, “Ah, I’ll just give you the CliffsNotes.”
It was to lessen the pain of her not reading a single thing I had ever written.
It still hurt, though. I could make as many jokes as I wanted to lighten the mood, but the truth was: I wanted her to support my writing and cheer me on and want my books in her house. I didn’t ever experience that, though.
I’m sure you’ve experienced this hurt too. For my clients and friends, they’ve been told:
“If you talk bad about Mom in your memoir, I’m never talking to you again.”
“I think it’s nice that you’re following your dreams, but you also need to pay bills and have a fall-back plan in case this whole writing thing fails.”
“If you never finished college, then how can you get a good job as a writer? I heard they don’t pay much.”
“What are people going to think if they read that?”
“Hasn’t that been written about, like, a hundred times?”
What’s sad is that . . . I almost wish she had said something like the above. Just words in general, good or bad, about my writing. But you see, sometimes silence is worse than words.
Do you have people in your life who are silent about your writing?
Maybe you tell them about finishing your first draft or hiring a book coach or ordering your first proof copy in hardcover, and you hear . . . nothing. Maybe there’s a nod. A curt smile. Maybe there’s a “Cooooool.” Or my personal favorite: a thumbs-up emoji via text.
Silence like that, to me, hurts deeper than words. I know that’s not so for everyone. But I know you all have experienced this before. If you haven’t, consider yourself very lucky. Because when someone you love falls silent about the thing you love, it pierces your soul. Rather than listening to all the praise and excitement and encouragement from everyone else, you zero in on what that one person said (or didn’t say) about your life as a writer.
That becomes the whole narrative. So you take the silence, or you take the rejection, and you create a whole new story:
“I’m a bad daughter if I tell the true stories about life with my mom in my memoir.”
“I’m irresponsible if I try to focus on writing my book right now because it’s not stable enough and my dreams need to just wait.”
“I should’ve finished college. Now no one will want me for the writing jobs I’m seeking.”
“I have to use a different word and rewrite this scene in case someone from my church reads this.”
“I need to scrap this because it’s been written about already. A lot.”
We let other people dictate what we should do with our words. We let people we love and admire pooh-pooh all over our writing, sometimes before the ink even dries. We watch loved ones ignore our books.
As I look back on how I reacted to when a loved one did that to me each time I wrote a book, I realize I wasted a lot of energy. I had alllllll these other people excited about my books and congratulating me, but I spent time and energy wondering why my loved one wouldn’t support me.
If you’re struggling with something like this, here’s what I recommend:
1. Be honest and tell your loved one that it hurts you when they don’t acknowledge your dream or when they put a damper on it. Have an adult conversation and be kind. It’s okay to tell someone when you’ve been hurt.
2. If that doesn’t work, then accept that your loved one just doesn’t get it and that’s that. Move on. Don’t try to force someone to support your writing when you have tons of other people out there cheering you on. It’s a waste of time and energy. Give attention to those who are already supporting you.
3. Write them into your novel and have, like, a bear eat them or something.
4. Find an author support group online or in your community. That, to me, is one of the biggest reasons I have succeeded in my career. You need like-minded people rooting for you. Make this a priority!
5. Go be a light to someone else who is experiencing the same thing as you, which . . . well, is probably every writer you know. To me, that’s the most important step in all of this—besides the bear thing. Think of your writer friends and ask yourself, “If I knew that Jane was struggling with having a loved one support her, just like I struggle with, what would I want someone to do for me?” Then go do that. I can be a text message saying, “Can I read some more of your stories? They’re so good!” Just be a light.
If I had it to do all over again . . . you know, I think for every single time my loved one ignored my writing or didn’t celebrate with me when a book was published, I would go find three people to message and cheer them on and tell them how proud I was of them. Can you imagine all the positivity that would’ve brought?
Well, there’s no time like the present.
An expert editor, best-selling author, and book marketer, Shayla Raquel works one-on-one with writers every day. A lifelong lover of books, she has been in the publishing industry for ten years and specializes in self-publishing.
Her award-winning blog teaches new and established authors how to write, publish, and market their books.
She is the author of the Pre-Publishing Checklist, “The Rotting” (in Shivers in the Night), The Suicide Tree, #1 bestseller The 10 Commandments of Author Branding, and her book of poetry, All the Things I Should’ve Told You. In her not-so-free time, she acts as organizer for the Yukon Writers’ Society, studies all things true crime, and obsesses over squirrels. She lives in Oklahoma with her dogs, Chanel, Wednesday, and Baker.
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Self-Publishing Mentor. Author. Speaker. Editor. Book Marketer.