Writers, Our Families, and Support Systems

Kristen Lamb wrote a blog post yesterday about how being a career writer is serious work, and it takes a lot of training, organization, and multitasking.  To read the full pep talk, click here: “Training to Be a Career Author.”

Her post got me thinking, not about writers, but about those in our lives who depend on us, whether it’s friends, family, or those we provide for.  I’m blessed to have a very supportive mom.  She truly believes I can get published and supports me in my pursuit of my dream.

That said, she also depends on me.  I will need to take over the bulk of the responsibility for supporting us–something I am completely willing to do!  But as I’ve come to realize in the past few weeks, being a career writer involves so much more than writing.  Kristen’s post goes into more detail about what is required of us: research, marketing, social media, learning the business side, not to mention continuing to write those novel-length works!  And that’s just a few things that will make up the schedule of a career writer.  For those of us still working towards that, we probably also have day jobs to balance, in addition to family and friends.

I hope that every one of you writers has friends and family that support you in your pursuit.  But people can be supportive and still reach their limits.  I imagine it might be hard for some of them to understand why we have to do all this work.  Maybe they support our writing, but wonder why we “have to” blog or Tweet.  Maybe they have the same idea about publishing we did before we learned the truth, that writing a book is all you need.

I don’t have any wisdom to offer in this regard, as it hasn’t been a major source of conflict in my relationships yet.  Ideally, we should be able to say that if we multitask properly, no one will feel neglected.  Well, feelings and reality hardly ever align.  I’m still working out my own balance in this new world, and feeling a little guilty about it, even though I know it will help my career in the long run.

So let me ask you, does your family, spouse, partner ever feel neglected or frustrated by the time you spend on these “other” writer activities?  How do you deal with it?  Do you try for an equalized schedule to multitask, or do you allow that schedule to be fluid according to who needs you more at any given time?  Do your loved ones want to support you, but sometimes just don’t understand all you’re trying to accomplish?

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8 comments on “Writers, Our Families, and Support Systems

  1. Author Kristen Lamb says:

    Thanks for the shout-out. I actually have THE most amazing hubby and I tell you, his support has made all the difference in the world. I have been able to accomplish so much more because he has the attitude that my writing career is an investment.

    Great blog and keep on keeping on!

  2. Katy says:

    I’m so glad you posted this. My mum is also amazingly supportive and is convinced I can get published one day so encourages me with everything and anything to do with the writing endeavour. I think you need someone like that because for the many times us writers wallow in self-doubt, those are the people that will pull you through; The ones that wholeheartedly believe that you can do it. She’s also my harshest critic, so I feel like I get the best of encouragement as well as an honest opinion.

    Most of my friends are ‘creative’ types and understand the need to immerse myself in the world of writing, but I also have a few ‘non-creative’ friends. These are the ones that have the 9-5 day jobs and to some extent determine their success by the size of their monthly pay check. Now don’t get me wrong, they’re not stuck up or anything, and they are beautiful friends, but they just don’t ‘get it’. They see a blog as a waste of time when I should be writing my novel…not understanding that writing takes practice. Some of them just cannot understand why I read all the time…and as much as I do enjoy reading, I see it as a form of research. And while some understand the inconvenience of creative ‘spurts’, others can’t see why I’m going to be 15mins late because I just have to get this idea down. But I think the most disappointing are the ones that won’t see me as a writer until I have been published…or until I finish the novel…or until I win some sort of award. They need some formal clarification, a title to justify what I am. They don’t say as much, but you can tell by the questions they ask and the lack of interest. For example: “Hey I just got published in a mag!” “Congrats! How much did you get paid?” “Nothing” “Oh, cool..”

    It’s okay because I know everyone is different, and to be honest, I can’t understand their concept of working a boring office job for the rest of my days and using money as the everlasting incentive to be happy. But obviously they can, and it’s whatever makes YOU happy that is important.

    • It does take all types to run the world. I’ve been fortunate to have a few non-writer friends who make an effort to share my excitement, like when I finish a manuscript. They usually do ask about the publishing aspect, but when I say that hasn’t happened yet, it doesn’t dampen their happiness for me.

      But I think you’re right about people needing those clarifying labels, and how publishing goes with being an author, and everything before that is “wishful thinking.”

      I’m drawing a blank on this one in my own life, but ever have any non-writer friends attempt to give you advice on writing and publishing?

      • Katy says:

        You are lucky to have such people. I have some non-writer friends who also get pretty excited and share in my small successes, and it makes all the difference.

        I have one friend who doesn’t write and rarely reads, who on occasion tries to offer pretty unhelpful writing advice and lives by the idea that you can write a book in a month, and if it’s any good enough have it published in two. Needless to say, she has many endearing qualities, but I seldom start conversations about writing with that one!

  3. My friends are so supportive of this, as well as my immediate family, but my hubby? Well… the best I can say is that he’s coming around to it (after eight years), but he’s very impatient (he doesn’t understand why I’m not published yet). Luckily for me (in this regard at least) he travels a lot, so I can do most of my blogging/twittering/socializing without him feeling neglected. On nights that he’s home (except when he’s watching a cooking show, like right now) we spend all our time together.

    And people wonder why I don’t want children 😛

    • Hm, sounds like a mixed blessing there. Does his impatience lead to him asking if you’d consider quitting? Even if I never published, I would never stop writing. But as Katy said, passion comes in different forms, and maybe some people think there is an “off” switch.

  4. My family is pretty supportive. Sometimes it is challenging to balance everything. There are days when I have to attend to the homefront instead of my writing tasks. It still seems to balance out over time though. I just might move a little slower than I’d like. And all of this planning my writing routine has actually helped me to become more organized everywhere else too. Nice side benefit. 😀

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