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When Your Family Hates Your Writing

It feels like the ultimate betrayal: you excitedly announce to family and friends that you want to be a writer, but instead of praise and encouragement, you get much the same reaction that I got when I first announced made this fateful announcement:

“Why do you want to do that?”

It’s heartbreaking when your family doesn’t support your writing. You believe that the people closest to you should support your endeavors, but sometimes they just don’t understand what’s pressing on your heart. That happens in life from time to time, and we have to decide if we have it in ourselves to stand up and pursue our passions on our own. 

Sadly, it’s a common thing. I see at least one post on social media a week from people asking how to get their families to like and support their writing, and my advice is always the same: you can’t. There’s no way you will convince them to feel your enthusiasm. The only recourse is to teach them to respect it as part of your life and who you are. Here are three tips to keep on keeping on when you live in a void of support from your inner circle.

Use Your Internal Motivation. Writing requires a thick skin, and the rejection of family and friends is only the tip of the “rejection iceberg” that is being a published writer. I’ve been writing for nearly 22 years and still get rejections. One of the first issues to tackle as a writer is the mental issue of internal motivation. You have to find the confidence to live in your authenticity and believe in yourself and your inspiration to create new stories. Anything in life worth having is a lot of work and effort, but it’s worth it if you love it and it’s part of your soul. When family and friends criticize writing, take a look in the mirror and decide what it means to you. Focusing on their rejection is looking in the wrong direction because being mad at them is taking away from your creativity. Turn that energy and focus back on yourself to bring your ideas to life.

Invoke Self Discipline. If you are bold enough to do it anyway, then you need to commit and set boundaries. Make it clear that you will create space in your life to write, and do so respectfully. I know rejection makes it difficult to remain reasonable, but that’s the only way to overcome these rejections. Try to set writing times that don’t interfere with family occasions, events, or responsibilities like early in the morning, during lunch hours, late at night, or on days off. This means that you will probably have to settle for shorter windows of time, but you have to work writing into your life whether you get support or not because there’s always something to pull you away from it. Remember that progress is progress. Small things add up to completed and published projects if you keep at it and don’t give up.

Find Outside Support. Your success as a writer depends on getting people who don’t know you to read your writing. I remember one day in 2015 when somebody close to me boldly proclaimed that they’d never read my work again if I kept writing science fiction. I told them that science fiction was selling was more enjoyable for me, so I would accept their decision to no longer read my work. The moral of this story is that you have to find people who do like and support your writing (often online) and let that encourage you. The responsibility for creating and promoting your work ultimately rests with you, and it’s not fair to expect family and friends to take on this burden because they didn’t choose it.

You also have to be fair and honest: do you enthusiastically support everything that all of the people closest to you do? Life is too full to keep up with what everybody else is doing, and you have to choose where to direct your energy. Be gracious and build a personal support system of people who naturally gravitate toward you. It can work out in the end because you can widen your world (and your inspiration) by making friends with people you probably wouldn’t have connected with otherwise.

It’s inevitable that you’ll find something in your heart that other people don’t understand. It’s discouraging, but the good news is that they tend to come if you remain respectful to them and true to yourself. Do what you can, widen your social circle, and everything will work out for a full and happy life. They might not be your number one fan, but they will learn to acknowledge and respect it as part of you. 

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Sherri Fulmer Moorer