One of the hardest things for aspiring writers is getting our family's support for our writing, especially before we're published. At least that was one of my struggles.
I remember saying to my husband on many occasions, "No, I'm not making any money on my writing. But yes, I still need time to write." Amidst the busyness of life, with five children, homeschooling, and trying to manage a home, writing was (and still is) very important to my sanity.
For a long time it was a battle to help my family understand that my writing was more than a hobby, that it was something I needed to spend concentrated time doing—especially if I hoped to get published some day.
Over time, I had many conversations—particularly with my husband. Here are just a few of the arguments I used over the years to gradually win his support:
1. We all need time for things we love.
My husband LOVES football. He takes time every week to watch games, check stats, read commentaries, etc. It's important to him. He enjoys the break it gives him from the busy chaos of life.
The fact is, we need things in our lives that rejuvenate us. Football does that for my husband. My writing does that for me. If we're engaging in a mutually respectful relationship, then he should be willing to let me take time for what I love, just as I am for him.
I'm in no way relegating writing to the same level as watching football, because writing is much more than a hobby for most aspiring writers. But the point is, if our family balks at our writing time, we can encourage them that we ALL need time for the things we love.
2. The early years of unpaid writing are simply part of the education process.
If I told my husband I wanted to go to school to become a brain surgeon, he certainly wouldn't begrudge me the years of education and training that are required (even if I could only attend school part time due to other responsibilities).
He'd wait patiently because he'd realize that one day I'll finally reach the point when I'm finally ready for my first brain surgery. But he'd also understand that I can't get to that point without putting in many, many long hours of unpaid study and practice. In fact, he'd even understand if I had to put out the money for school, workshops, conferences, books, etc.
And the same is true of writing. We can't get to a professional point in our career unless we put in the time day after day, year after year. And we may even need to put out a little money for editing, buying writing craft books, or going to conferences.
3. Once we're agented or published, it still takes time to build our small business.
If I opened a cupcake shop, my family wouldn't expect me to be raking in a huge profit the first few years. They'd realize it takes time to get the word out about my cupcake business and to build a loyal base of customers who love me and are willing to rave about my cupcakes to their friends. It may even take some extra marketing dollars to get the word out.
And writers start out much the same, whether we go the traditional route or self-publish. We have to invest capitol (time, energy, and books) into our writing business, often for years before we begin to see a profit or make a living from it. There are no guarantees for small businesses. Perhaps we'll never make anything. Which brings me to the last point . . .
4. We have to support and believe in each other's dreams, even when no one else does.
The bottom line for my husband and I over the years is that we want to support each other's dreams. Whether those dreams ever become a reality or not, we hope to be each other's biggest cheerleaders.
If my husband wanted to pursue something new (i.e. a different career), and if it was really important to him, then whether I understand it or not, I would encourage his efforts. Sure, we would have to dialogue through the difficulties and look for ways to make it workable in our current situation. But I wouldn't want to squash his dreams or desires simply because they're not mine.
And the same is true of my writing. Long before I was published, my husband eventually came to a point of understanding how important my writing was to me. And he wanted to support me and my dreams whether I ever got published or not.
My summary: Although our writing aspirations may not be easy for our families and loved ones to understand, I've learned that it is possible to gently win them over. Don't give up hope!
What about you? Have you experienced a family member or loved one misunderstanding your writing? What are some ways you've worked at gaining their support?
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