Become A Successful Writer Despite Your Friends And Family

    You’ve finally decided to write that novel or build your author platform.

    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.

    About the author

      Leanne Regalla

      Leanne Regalla teaches creative people how to pursue their art without starving to death. Get "The Rebel Artist's Manifesto - Having the Audacity to Make Good Money From Your Creative Work" at Make Creativity Pay.

    • em says:

      Great post I just stumbled across this when I was wondering if anyone else had to deal with this. Those writers who have support from family and friends don’t know how lucky they are. I come from a family that hates books and doesn’t understand why anyone would want to read them let alone write them. They are the kind of people who are hard to shut out, they feel they have to make themselves heard. I’ve written and published several books, even been translated into foreign languages, but everyone close to me constantly questions and criticizes everything about my writing, even though they know nothing about it, don’t want to learn, and explaining, which I stopped doing long ago, is like talking to a brick wall. I have been battling chronic depression since my teens and trying to keep doing the one thing I love and am good at, combat this negativity, and be my own cheering section is the hardest thing in the world sometimes. I have a box full of several copies of one of my books that I keep to give out for reviews and sell a few online too and my mother just said to me tonight I should throw them all away, if they were any good people would have bought them all already.

    • I think point #2 is the most important because that’s the one which helps you keep going forward. When I was writing my first book a few people asked if they could see portions of it, which I shared, and they weren’t helpful at all. One guy actually asked me if I’d ever even read a book; oy! I’d let it stop me for a little while, but then I’d get going again. But I learned a valuable lesson about who to trust and who will give you support. Great stuff!

    • Mani says:

      Your advice about choosing your confidants carefully is dead on. I’ve developed some solid strategies for steering conversations away from my writing and career. I wish it didn’t have to be that way, but it’s a necessary form of emotional self-protection. Great article!

    • Jeremy says:

      “#3 Prepare for negativity” ==> Whenever you take that step forward to change something huge that will change your life, there’s BOUND to be naysayers. But never forget the WHY. And if you really have to, the best revenge is just to succeed beyond your wildest dreams and prove it to them.

    • Great post! I have to ask though since this is something I encounter with some regularity–what would be an example ‘scripted’ response that you mention in number 1?

      • Great question, Andrew. What I had in mind here is something like (for new acquaintances) “I’m a full-time, self-employed writer.” (Fiction writer, blogger, whatever the case may be.) “I’ve been doing this for X number of years” (if you have been) should tell them you have things under control.

        For friends, things like, “I’ve had some really good opportunities come up lately,” “Everything is on track and going well,” “I got recognition from ____ and I’m really happy about it,” and then steer the conversation in another direction.

        Don’t get into troubles and woes unless you just keep it high level – “I had some setbacks in the last month or two – [go into a bit of detail – care repair expenses or something] – but I’m getting back on track now.” Something like that. Remember, not everyone is your best friend, and even if they do care about you, they may not really be equipped to help you through the tough times (although they might think that their stock answers are the solution to your problems.)

        Go into detail only with people who have proven they truly understand and can help.

        Hope this helps!

    • Anita says:

      Hi Leanne,

      Thanks for your thoughtful post. I’m definitely on a journey of not allowing the negative words impact on the work I feel called to, I will persevere! 🙂

      • Good for you, Anita! It might not even be all a matter of “negative” or “positive”. They might be coming from a good place with good intentions, but just not really know how to help – or, they may not realize that you don’t need help, just their friendship and support.

    • Benjamin Layer says:

      Wow, I love that article! So much truth in it!

      In my own experience, negative reactions aren’t that bad. I can handle them, argue against them and try to use it as a practice to gain some confidence in what I do.
      What really can get me down are the people that act supporting but still don’t really believe in you. The people that ask if you need some money every time you meet them, no matter how often you tell them your monthly income. The people who continue promising you their full support and don’t get that you don’t need it.
      They all just want to help, I know, but that only makes it worse. Feeling that a supportive person does not believe in what you do is kind of devastating.

      So, thanks for your tips, I will certainly try some of them.

      • I agree, Benjamin. I think that some people just can’t wrap their heads around the fact that it’s possible to make an actual living from writing.

        Maybe some education will help. You don’t have to show them your bank account, of course, but tell stories (your own or others) and give examples of people who are successful.

    • I think my husband is terrified I’ll succeed as a writer. On one hand he encourages me, while on the other, he persistently reads over my shoulder and comments on what I have said and tells me its stupid.

      He also picks on a comma left out or an incorrect spelling of a word, when I have not yet done a grammar or spell check and then he tells people that I make so many mistakes that he has to point them out to me. This is rubbish and he knows it, but this does not stop him from being mean.

      I think I must lock my office door and not show him anything I write in future. Then if he wants to read something he can buy it off Kindle.

      • Yeah, that’s a tough situation. But it sounds like you have a great plan. I say go for it, and best of luck to you.

    • Great article. I’ve been surprised by some family members who have not been supportive. It was demoralizing for a while. I even got the “You should keep writing as a hobbie,” because I wasn’t making the same income I used to make when working a 40-60 hour job in I.T. The comments sting, but I’ve learned to not let them weigh me down. Actually, I find myself changing the conversation to something other than my writing “hobbie”. Why waste my enthusiasm with people who only want me to confirm their skepticism?

      My husband has been amazing, and my daughter proofs some of my work. The “core” team is very supportive, and that’s helped tons. Not sure I would continue if it wasn’t for them. I definitely lucked out there.

      • “Why waste my enthusiasm with people who only want me to confirm their skepticism?” – excellent point!

        So glad that your immediate family is supportive, Tanya. It does make all the difference in the world.

    • Sherman L. Bailey says:

      Great article…. the information, as presented, is timely and appropriate. I believe you’ve covered the waterfront on matters that affect many of us.

      Your keen but tasteful insight, along with your thoughtful approach to the subject matter is of great value and benefit to many.

    • This is very helpful advice and I’m sharing it.

    • Even when you’re bringing in a full time income from your writing, this can still be an issue for a writer. For some reason people think you don’t need to commit 8 hours or more a day to your work, just because you’re doing it from home.

      • Oh, so true, Kathleen! I still have to remind people of my work hours. Some folks are definitely more trainable than others. 😉

    • Donna Z says:

      I’m not a writer but a musician — read this anyway because I like Leanne’s articles; and knew I would gain from it. This info applies to all creative persons. I can remember my parents not being supportive of my studying music, so I studied nursing instead. I used to feel angry about that; but in their defense, I think that parents worry about their children being safe financially. Also family and friends my be concerned that they will in some way be left financially supporting the “failed” artist, writer, etc. With that in mind, I think that #3 is excellent. Reassuring those with the negative comments that there is a plan and this is serious work, very much kept negative people at a distance. . And, then sharing concerns and/or worries with trusted confidants (#2) created an outlet. Thanks for another great article Leanne.

      • You’re welcome, Donna. Glad you can relate!

        I agree, I think we all know musicians and other creative types who have gone through the same things.

    • Suzanne says:

      Wonderful post. Thank you! Writers who have support from friends and family often don’t realize how blessed they are.

      Despite negativity from my family, and despite a medical misdiagnosis that caused me serious damage, I’ve had five novels published and won awards. Writing is my avocation.

      • Good for you, Suzanne, and congratulations on all your achievements through those difficult situations!

        Persistence and dedication definitely pay off. Best of luck to you.

    • R J says:

      Boy did you “call my name” for this. I understand that I am not the only one in the boat now. Thank you.

    • 5 and 6 are so important especially if your family wants to think of writing as a hobby or doesn’t understand the work involved, not only in writing a book, but in getting published. If not for my writer friends and my mentor, I’d be pretty discouraged.

      • Hi Robyn,

        I so agree! Finding the right people saved me as well. It’s not that the majority of the friends or family around me didn’t want to be supportive, it’s just that they didn’t understand at all.

        Glad to hear you have found good support!

    • Susan says:

      My family is pretty supportive. My husband says he’s my biggest fan and my kids are always asking when they can give one of my books to their friends. I think the biggest obstetrical is just finding time to write with young children at home.

      • That’s great, Susan. Always nice when the hubby is on your side, eh? I love that your kids want to give your books to their friends!

        I think finding that time is a common theme for many writers. Kids are both a blessing and a challenge. Good luck to you.

    • After all is said and done I find the hardest part is getting it to a reliable editor. I had one hold my manuscript
      for over a year while they had different projects and personal issues that were never told to me to beginwith. Then there is an issue of price which there is no simple rule. I would like someone to tackle those issues and that might help newbies out like myself. It is very frustrating, thank you for listening to my frustrated rant. Ahh I already feel better vetting that out there.
      Thank you,

      Michael Hall

      • Wow, Michael! What an experience.

        Are you asking about pricing for editing work?

        I’ve always had the best luck when I’ve gotten referrals from friends or colleagues. I find that it’s best to start off with a smaller, trial project or two. See how they do with that – whether you like their work and responsiveness. Then you can progress to trusting them with larger projects.

        Best of luck to you!

    • I like your view on how overcoming skepticism is a rite of passage.
      For me, my family doesn’t mean to hold me back. But having young children at home doesn’t create a supportive environment. When I think I’ve carved out some time, someone gets sick or no longer wants to play by themselves. The few strategies I’ve used are:
      1. Becoming more realistic with my time. I write is small chunks rather than for hours.
      2. I try to wake up an hour before the kids and write.
      3. I’m not a social media addict and I force myself not to check emails until I’ve finished what I’m writing.
      4.. I read everything I can about writing so I feel connected to other writers.

      • So true, Marcia – I think many times our families don’t hold us back intentionally, especially kids. I like that you set realistic expectations and use small chunks of time. That strategy really helps me also.

        Feeling connected to other writers is so important. Good for you and thanks for chiming in!

      • Marcy McKay says:

        My goodness, Marcia. You sound so organized. My kids are both teens now, but when my kids were little I would get up EARLY (5 am) and write until whenever they woke up (hopefully, 7 am). I have a friend who’s the exact opposite. She kisses her husband goodnight @ 10 pm. He goes to bed and she goes to write. You can get a LOT done in 60-120 minutes, uninterrupted.

    • “What strategies have you used when faced with less-than-supportive family and friends? ”

      Well, my family are active readers. I guess that is (kind of) my strategy.

      Encourage family to read more and your passion for writing won’t seem so far fetched to them.

      • Great idea, Katherine. I still buy physical books sometimes, and this is one good reason why. If I know that someone will like it, I can just hand it to them and say, “you need to read this!” rather than nagging them to buy a digital download for themselves. 😉

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