You’ve thought about it for for months, maybe even years, and now you’re ready and excited.
But the people in your life aren’t.
In fact, you get the feeling your family and friends would rather have you stay right where you are — struggling and playing small.
You try to convince them that this path is your true calling, but they remain skeptical. Their doubts sap your passion and resolve, and deep down you wonder if they are right.
Maybe you’re not cut out to be a writer at all.
How friends and family hold you back as a writer
You might think support from family and friends is crucial, but such support can be hard to find.
Instead of cheering you on in your new endeavors, those closest to you may:
- tell you that your dreams of being a professional writer are unrealistic or even crazy
- stress that a safe, reliable job is more important
- remind you of past failures and warn against taking future risks
- urge you to consider writing a hobby, not a serious pursuit
These are common reactions.
People feel threatened by change and uncertainty.
Your new direction can be unsettling and worrisome for your friends and family. It’s not that they don’t want you to succeed; they just don’t want to leave the familiar behind.
Fortunately, moving forward without their backing or understanding is not only possible, it may actually be preferable.
Why overcoming skepticism is a rite of passage
Skepticism and doubt are part of a writer’s life.
A writer who is unable to persevere in the face of skepticism – not just from friends and family, but from readers, editors, publishers, etc. – will struggle to succeed, no matter what other skills and talents they possess.
In fact, many would say that a writer who hasn’t overcome some adversity hasn’t earned the right to succeed.
Sometimes tenacity, focus, and determination are the only traits that get us through the rough periods. If you don’t develop these traits early on, you’ll most likely give up.
Learning to press forward will make you stronger, more committed to succeed, and ultimately, a better writer. So the secret is to learn how to thrive even without support.
11 Essential endurance strategies for surviving the writing wilderness
When your favorite people aren’t supportive, moving forward with your plans can feel like trekking the outback with nothing but a rope and a knife on your belt.
You’re attempting something you’ve never done before and you’ll face real dangers – possible financial struggles, work/life balance issues, and more.
Yet you must press on to reach the next level in your career. You can’t afford to let other people’s good intentions hold you back.
The following tips will help you survive your journey as a writer, even when things get tough:
1. Craft concise responses to questions about your work.
Find simple, clear ways to explain what you do when asked. Create some basic scripts in advance.
It’s great that your family and friends care about you, so tell them that. Give them general updates, but don’t get into a lot of detail. Volunteering too much information can create a slippery slope that invites interference.
2. Choose your confidants wisely.
Figure out the right people to ask for help, or just to lend a listening ear.
These people will give it to you straight, but also make you feel empowered and uplifted. They are the few with whom you can confidently share everything – even your fears and failures.
Don’t go into as much detail with others who ask.
3. Prepare for negativity.
If you have a particularly skeptical person in your life, try preparing some kind but firm responses in advance. Something like, “I appreciate your concern, and you’re right, things might be tough for a while, but I have help and a plan, and I’m confident that everything will be alright.”
You can rehearse specific responses for known skeptics, and general ones to pull out when the source of the negativity surprises you.
4. Be on a mission.
Keep your goal front and center, whether it is to publish a bestselling sci-fi trilogy or to earn enough from your writing to put the kids through college.
Get a solid vision and purpose for yourself, strong enough to help you plow through on tough days. Don’t underestimate the importance of your “why”.
And don’t be afraid to communicate your mission through everything you do. Passion is contagious and will draw supporters to you.
5. Find good mentors and teachers.
Every time I’ve found the right coaches, things have clicked into place. They were on my wavelength, we shared similar values, and their approach was exciting.
I’d say to myself, “This is perfect! I have to learn from her,” or, “I need to work with him!”
When you experience this serendipity, do everything you can to grab that opportunity. You’ll make an immediate connection with someone who will be on your side and will help you reach your goals.
6. Find supportive groups and communities.
These can be online or in your hometown.
Make sure the members are producing awesome work and spurring each other on to greater things, not just hanging around drinking and talking about writing ‘someday’. If you’re lucky, some of the relationships you build will benefit you for years to come.
7. Keep looking for and trying new avenues for learning and growth.
You will outgrow learning opportunities. Give yourself permission to move on when you feel a particular person, program, approach or activity is not the right fit for you, or isn’t serving you any longer.
Don’t waste valuable time due to indecision. Don’t feel bad about moving on, either. Keep the good connections you made and lessons you learned, and let go of the rest.
8. Defend your boundaries.
Fiercely protect your personal space and your outlook. If you can’t avoid energy vampires completely, be nice to them, but not open or forthcoming.
Remember that negative comments can ruin your confidence and mood for hours or even days. You owe it to yourself to avoid such comments so you can do your best work.
9. Take excellent care of yourself.
This is always important, but especially so when you’re not feeling the love from those around you.
Get enough sleep, revive that exercise routine, and be sure to eat healthily. Your physical and emotional state will benefit, and it’ll be great for your outlook and stamina.
10. Actively allow some emptiness to exist in your life.
This is tough, but don’t be in a rush to fill the space left behind when you let go of certain people or situations.
When your life’s focus changes, you may outgrow some relationships or find some activities less appealing. Better things will replace them in time. Until then, use the free time to write a lot.
11. Help someone else.
Reach out to others, either through your work or otherwise. Magic happens when you put aside self-interest and focus on those who need you.
Are you ready to start your journey as a serious writer?
When you shake things up in your own life, the people around you are bound to react. Don’t let their fears and frustrations hold you back from achieving your dreams.
You can become a successful writer despite lack of support from your friends and family.
Persistence in the face of skepticism will strengthen you, and as you continue to hone your craft, you will become a better writer.
The world needs your contribution. For every person who feels threatened when you step up your game, 20 to 100 others will likely be inspired.
What strategies have you used when faced with less-than-supportive family and friends? Leave a comment and let us know.