By Patricia Bradley
Earlier this week I received a call from a non-writing friend who invited me to go shopping. The conversation went something like this:
“I can’t,” I said, “I have a deadline. Maybe next time.”
“You’ll have a deadline then, too,” replied my friend.
I’m thinking, yes, I certainly hope so, but then my friend added, “You need more balance in your life. All you do is sit at that computer and type. You never have any freedom or time to do anything.”
Does that sound familiar? Maybe not the exact words, but the sentiment?
Since that call, I’ve thought about what an uphill battle writers have. It’s not enough that many writers suffer from believing their work isn’t good enough, but they also have to fight even well meaning (and some not so well meaning) friends who make it difficult to find time to write.
I’ve talked with other writers, and while many of them have family and friends who are supportive, almost every writer I’ve spoken with has someone who undermines their ability and chips away at their writing time. Those friends think the writer’s dreams are pie-in-the-sky. And when they are spouses or other close family members, the battle becomes even harder. Especially for writers who are yet to be published.
The problem is writing is often not viewed as a productive job, therefore the writer isn’t taken seriously. So, what’s the answer? How can a person who already feels they may be wasting their time writing, stand up to negative criticism and cries that they are neglecting a friend or a spouse?
If I knew the answer to that, I would be wealthy. But while I have no sure-fire solution, I do have a few suggestions.
Divorce if it’s a spouse.
1. Although I did consider that at one time. My husband wasn’t totally unsupportive–he just didn’t want me to spend my time writing when he was home. He was actually my first critique partner and why I have absolutely no problem with any revision an editor has suggested. No editor has ever said my work was stupid.
2. Again, if it’s a spouse, work while they are busy doing something else or are away. Make the most of any time you have alone. And when the spouse wants you to sit mindlessly with them in front of the boob-tube, don’t be mindless. Use that time to work on your story.*
*I know this sounds strange to people who have never experienced this type of relationship, but it exists far more often than you would believe. I know–I’ve talked with too many writers who find themselves in this situation.
3. Every morning pencil in an appointment with yourself for whatever free time you have for writing. Then when those friends call and want you to do something because, you know, you’re home and just writing, tell them you have an appointment. You won’t be telling a fib.
4. This is the most important suggestion: Believe in yourself. God has given you a gift, a talent. Use it wisely, and he will reward you.
5. One more: When someone says you don’t have balance in your life just reply, “What’s new? I’ve always been unbalanced.”
Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi, and when she’s not writing murder, she’s either knitting or throwing mud on a wheel. She writes romantic suspense set in small towns where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Her lasted book, Silence in the Dark, released in April, 2016.
I haven’t published anything yet, other than seven years of college stuff (yes I put my own works down) and I really relate to what you are saying. It’s funny how my own husband responded when I decided to make a hardcopy of the poetry and short stories I’ve written throughout my Bachelors and it looked to be about 500 to 700 pages worth, yet in every attempt I’ve asked him what do you think? Yeah its great, but when tempers fly it’s like- your not making an income so your not working. Other’s really don’t understand because many think it’s nutty to sit in front of a computer screen (yet TV’s okay),and its even more funny that I was so upset when I couldn’t open all that work and began to cry about that. My husband acted like it was nothing to cry about. I really just think guys don’t like us crying. Well thanks for the post and keep up all your “hard work.”
Love this!! ???? lol on the last line about being unbalanced. What a great approach. Loved every word. Thank u for sharing your heart with us, Patricia. Xo
Wonderful, encouraging words! Thanks for telling it as writing life really is–makes me feel less weird.
Patricia, you’ve voiced the fears and frustrations of lots of writers–all of them, for all I know, but definitely of those who write in the Christian genre (or, to use the newer term, “inspirational”). Thanks for sharing.
Thank you all for your posts. It’s always good to know you’re not the only one who feels this way.
I like these five points especially the last one “yes, I have always been unbalanced”.
The amount of work a writer puts in is so often overlooked.
I would add that people, even church people, act like it shouldn’t take you any time to do this “writing thing.” If you were really gifted at it (they imply)and if God was with you on it, it should come easily and it should come fast. There is no reason why you can’t write and . . .