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Monday, July 10, 2017

Why Some People Don't Support Your Writing Goals




One of the weird things about writing is that to many outsiders, you look like you are doing nothing. Often, people don't see the results until months after the work has been completed. That, coupled with the fact that most of the population doesn't actually understand how complex and difficult it is to write fiction, let alone be successful at it, can lead to some negative encounters. Most people don't know how to value storytelling. So much of their experience of it is based on feeling and subconscious thoughts.

And of course, there is the tendency to measure things by income, and to some people, skills and work only have value if they can bring in the money. There is a realm for this kind of thinking, but it's not for everyone and every skill at every level. D. Todd Christofferson once taught, "All true work is sacred." Even those who have made a beautiful income off their writing were writing without it for a long time.

I remember back when I graduated high school, people were, of course, interested in knowing where I wanted to go from there. When I told them I wanted to be a writer, I was surprised how people felt about it. No one said it straight out, but I could tell from their tone, body language, and what they did say that they thought it was stupid. I clearly remember one person (a graduate from a different high school) sticking her nose up at me and then going off about all the super, amazing, world-changing things she was going to do--all before the age of 19, apparently. She emanated arrogance.

By the time I graduated college with an English degree, I got less flack from people, but I still clearly remember the day of commencement, standing outside a college building in my gown, and one person's disbelief in me when I said I wanted pursue a career in fiction writing.

Look, I understand where this disbelief comes from. And for you, it might be helpful to know where it might be coming from too:

  • Statistics--the actual stats of how many people want to work in the writing industry vs. how many people actually do. The stats of how many people want to write a book vs. how many people actually do. The stats of how many people want to get published vs. those that do.
  • Money--our world often measures worth based on income. I've met people who make all their decisions based on income. I'm not going to say they are wrong. If their dream is to have a great income, good for them for pursuing it. Hats off! But sometimes people forget that not everyone measures life that way. Another point of problem may be that they think you are spending too much money pursuing your writing goals, in one form or another.
  • Time--some people won't support your writing because of the time it requires you to work on it. They do not view it as a good use of time or that the rewards will be worth the time. I've met some people who think choosing to do anything that requires real effort outside of work and other high-priority areas is dumb and wasted energy. If the person is close to you, they may not like how time is taking you away from them or how it affects other areas of your life.
  • Ignorance--As I mentioned, the majority of the world's population doesn't understand storytelling or its worth in society. Most people are clueless that there is more to writing than punctuation and grammar, and most people have no idea that you can actually learn how to write better stories. They don't know it's a skill that people can actually develop. They think it's something someone is simply born with, regardless of effort, or something someone just sits down and does in a night.
  • Self-projection--When people hear what others want and are doing, one of the first things they are wired to do is to project themselves into it. I'm pretty sure this is human nature, and if we want to move beyond it, we have to recognize it and retrain ourselves. But it makes sense, because we are trying to relate to whatever people are saying. Because people can't personally see themselves doing a writing career, they can't see you doing one. They've projected themselves into it, instead of you.
    • This one goes deeper though, beyond career. It also goes into lifestyle.
      • People don't think you have the self-discipline to write a book because they don't have it.
      • People think you don't have the self-discipline to work from home because they don't.
      • People think you can't make it as a writer because they can't.
      • and it goes on . . .
  • Jealousy--Some people won't support you in your writing because they are jealous. 
    • Jealousy (real)--Remember how I brought up stats at the beginning of this list? All those people who wanted to work in the writing industry but didn't, all those people who want to write a book, but haven't, all those people who want to be published but aren't, are out there. Now, many of these people aren't jerks, and frankly it's okay they haven't done these things, or haven't done them yet. But if they aren't okay with it, then that might be manifested in jealousy--that you are pursuing what they want to pursue. This might result in them being jerks or unsupportive of you.
    • Jealousy (perceived)--Other people who care less about fiction writing can get jealous, but it's a perceived jealousy. Remember how I said most of the population doesn't have a clue about how fiction writing works? Some of these people have misconceptions about it. They may be jealous because they think you are sitting at home all day, and you have it so easy. They think fiction writing is easy. They don't appreciate or understand the process. They're jealous you don't have to slave away all day. Or they're jealous you are following your dreams, when maybe they aren't. They're jealous you have a job you enjoy (even if it's a love/hate relationship). 

All of these are reasons people may not want to support your writing endeavors. Often when people start writing, they don't have a lot of people rooting for them.

But guess what? If you want to get real, the only support you absolutely need to write is your own.

You need to give yourself permission to love writing and to write.

Now, this doesn't mean you need to give everything else up and that you should quit your job. But if you want to write. Write. Write on your lunch break. Wake up early and write before anyone is up. Write in secret. Who has to know? If you don't have time to write, consider how you can make time now or eventually down the road.

This is your life. Life is short but it is also long. Do you want to miss out on doing what you love? Do you really want to spend all these decades not doing it?

As I often like to acknowledge though, there are things that happen in life that might hamper your ability to do this or might keep you from being able to do it at all. Life hits, and sometimes there are bigger priorities. That's okay. Life is also long. And it's unlikely it will be how it is right now for all of it.

But even when you give yourself permission to write, you're still going to have to deal with unsupportive people. I'm very lucky in that my family has always supported me, my boss supports me, most all my friends support me. But not everyone has that.

In some cases, if you really want to pursue writing, and you keep having to deal with people tearing you down about it day after day, it might be best to cut that person out of your day-to-day or even month-to-month life. Maybe "cut" is too harsh, but maybe you can sort of fade-out.

But again, not everyone has this option. What about when you are married to that person? What about when that person works next to you at your job? Since I don't have personal experience with these, I asked another writer to talk about how to deal and interact with people who don't support your writing goals. That post will be up next week.

Did I miss any other reasons people don't support writing? Feel free to add them in the comments.

2 comments:

  1. Beautiful post, and I really relate, maybe because I'm one of those writers who don't have support from the people around her. It hurt me when I was young. Now that I'm a vaccinated adult, I've learned to cope with that. And besides, the internet era has brought us this fantastic opportunity to connect with people who do care about our passions, even if they live miles away.
    I'm lucky to live in this time.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, the internet helps a lot in this day and age when you are somewhat isolated in the writing world. I'm glad you continued your passion even though those around you have not been supportive.

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