I remember a woman from a critique group I attended years ago. She would lug her four girls, of varying ages, to the Thursday night meeting at a local art center. The older girls would take care of the younger ones out in the lobby for two hours while she sat in the meeting. Not an ideal situation, to be sure. She told us her husband, mother, and sister didn’t support her writing endeavors, so this was the best solution she had.
While I’m not condoning dragging children along to entertain other children at a busy art center, my point in relating this story is that she had no encouragement from family members, a condition I ran into from time to time in my various networking groups. It’s not easy to nurture a fledgling desire to write when the people who are supposed to have your back are not supporting you.
So how does the discouraged writer take care of herself when her family and friends offer little to no assistance or encouraging words? Let me offer a few suggestions.
1. Find a support system. If physically attending a critique group is not an option, online groups exist to help writers. If marketing and networking are your needs, often there are state organizations with local affiliates and conferences as well as social media groups. Make a list of what you want from a group, and shop around until you find it.
2. Move beyond expectations. If you keep expecting your friends and family to come around, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. If it happens, great, but don’t wait for the support of those closest to you before pursuing your dreams.
3. Look within for encouragement. How do you encourage yourself? Rehearse your wins. Got positive feedback from a story? Keep track of it. Won a contest? Frame the certificate. Sell a story? Shout it from the rooftops. Celebrate the writer in you!
4. Don’t give up. While that might sound trite, nurturing your dream is of the utmost importance. Set safeguards in place to ward off thoughts of giving up your writing aspirations. Collect inspiring words from other writers who have been where you are. Visualize. Dream. Remember why you do this thing called writing.
Realize that writing is more than what you do. It’s who you are.