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Thursday, October 24, 2013

When Your Family Thinks Your Writing is Just a Hobby

sad girlThey say writing can be a lonely profession and nothing is more true when the people closest to you are unsupportive and think your writing is just a hobby.

One thing I love about the writing community is that they "get" me. They understand that my writing is not a hobby, but a 
passion, a calling, something I was born to do, have to do. And ultimately, hopefully, a career.

My writing community is a supportive, safe place for me to go with my writing woes, and they understand completely when one minute I'm riding a writing high and the next minute I want chuck my laptop out the window and give up...forever.

But what do we do when others don't "get" it? When our families looks at us cross-eyed when we spend hours at our computer and there's no hot dinner on the table? When they equate our writing to a round of golf, or think their social life is more important than meeting a deadline...even if it's a self imposed deadline? And how can we justify the amount of money and time we spend on our writing when our families think our writing is just a hobby?

Fight to Write

I don't mean put on gloves and duke it out (though you may have to do that in spirit.) I'm talking about not giving up on your writing dreams and what you feel called to do. I've often shared with my family I didn't go to college to be a mom and wife. Yes, that's part of my job description right now, but that's not all God's called me to be. Before I became a wife and mother, I was a girl with a dream and a calling on my life. Why can't I be all God's called me to be? 

Yes, there will be seasons when your writing will have to take a back seat (especially if you're carpooling kids around,) but if you feel you can't not write, you can help your family understand that your writing is more than a hobby.

Start a Dialogue

We're good at writing dialogue for our characters, so how about starting a discussion with your family about everyone's dreams and how you can all support each other? Part of this discussion should be each person's definition of support, since I've discovered what my family thinks of supporting me in my writing doesn't always match up to my expectations. Then come to an agreement on how you can support each others dreams.

If your family thinks you are spending too much time writing, than figure out a way to get in your writing during times that won't impose on the family. This may mean getting up earlier or going to bed later. Yes, it's a sacrifice, but if you're not willing to do what it takes to be successful, you might as well quit. And don't be shy in expressing how you feel your family's activities and responsibilities are imposing on your time in pursuing your goals. Fight against the double standards! 

But they think my writing is a hobby and shouldn't be a priority! 

I know, I've been there, still am there depending on the day, and you may never change their minds (until you start to make money.) But you can remind them often that your writing is like a small business and it takes an investment in time and money to make it a successful business. I once heard the argument from my family in reference to my writing that after five years if a business is not making money, it should be shut down. Maybe that would be the case if I actually put in five active years of writing (as in working it like a 40 plus  hour a week job.) But let's face it, many of us are not full time writers, and I don't agree that's a fair argument. Publishing is a slow growing business, but it can be a very successful business if you're allowed to put in the time. Educating your family to the publishing world is the first step in helping them understand the business side of books.

What if you've tried all that and they still don't support you the way you feel you need to be successful?

Hide Your Dreams in Your Heart

If you can't get rid of your desire to write, then do what you can, when you can, and trust that in the right time, your writing dreams will come to pass. Prayer can also change the heart of your family! It just may take more time.

Seek Other Writers and Start a Support System

Family and close friends aren't the only means of a good support system. Other writers  have been invaluable to my writing journey, so don't discount the power they have in encouraging you. Today, with organizations like ACFW and many local writers groups, there is no reason any writer should feel alone.
Bottom line is, we can't justify what we do to nonwriters. It just doesn't make sense to them. (Sometimes it doesn't make sense to me!) But we can "fight" for our dreams.  We don't have to journey this writing road alone, and there are practical things we can do to make the journey easier for one another. And maybe with time and persistence, we just might be able to convince our families that our writing is more than a hobby.

What do you do when your family is unsupportive of your writing?


Gina Conroy is founder of Writer...Interrupted and is still learning how to balance a career with raising a family. Represented by Chip MacGregor, she finds time to write fun, quirky mysteries in between carpooling and ballroom dancing .  Her first mystery Cherry Blossom Capers, released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012, and Digging Up Death is available now.

13 comments:

heatherblanton said...

This blog really meant a lot to me. I wrote my first book, A Lady in Defiance, without any support from my husband. I remember a time or two sitting on the floor, basically hiding beside the bed, to write a scene. Well, 12,000--copies sold-later, my husband is singing a different tune. God is good! So I really encourage people to fight for that dream!

Geoff Wright said...

When something is important enough, we find a way. I remember getting up to study for exams at 5am every morning. No-one thought it was a bad idea because no-one else was up! I went to bed early while everyone else watched t.v. No complaints there either. Where there is a will there is a way. Especially if it is His will. .

DiAnn said...

My mother still refers to my writing as a hobby and, "It's so nice your husband lets you work at home with your hobby." It's ok, as I continue to fill up her bookcase with published titles. :)

Karen lee Hallam said...

OMG, my tween boys keep asking when I'm going to sell my book. Kills me. I tell them it's an art, and takes time to craft -- and now, I have three more to sell. ugh! Thanks for this!!

Gina Conroy said...

Good for you, Heather!! Great example of perseverance.

Gina Conroy said...

Great advice and example, Geoff!

Gina Conroy said...

Before I sold my book, my youngest faithfully prayed every night for me to sell my book, so when I did, she felt like she played a part in it. And she did! Maybe I should have her pray I finish this next one ASAP!

Gina Conroy said...

Too funny! You're multi published and still it's a hobby!

David N. Alderman said...

Wow, this is the best post I've seen written on this subject so far. These are really great tips for those who are being criticized at every turn for doing what they believe they are called to do. I've been writing 'full-time' for over four years now and I still am not able to pay the bills with my royalties. But I have a wife who works full-time to pay the bills because she believes in the dream and promise that God set up for us. I couldn't do this without her. The rest of our family looks at us like we're dopey, but we've held onto our dream and we know God is going to come through in His timing.

Gina Conroy said...

Wow, right back at you, David! Thanks for the encouraging comment and confirmation that even in the struggle, I'm doing the right thing! :) And what a blessing your wife is! But you already know that!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Gina. In my extended family, I'm the dreamer, so it should come as no surprise that my first novel is based on Joseph and his family. I spent ten years teaching kindergarten and first grade in the public schools, but at the end of the 2003/04 school year, God called me to write full-time. This did not stretch my faith too much, because my husband still had his job in the Information Technology industry, but everything changed with the pink slip he received at the beginning of 2008. The gloves came off! I need not repeat what has been said to me through the years because you've already said it so well in your post, but I'm still writing, and still pressing on. In fact, I'm very close to having the first in my planned trilogy completed before this year ends. I need to make very clear that the criticism has not come from my husband, or even children, but from extended family. How hard this journey would be without my husband's full support. We walk by faith and not by sight, and since the job he was able to find (after 18 months unemployment) is in the fast food industry, we live from faith to faith, instead of paycheck to paycheck, because our faith goes futher, and God ALWAYS provides. I wouldn't trade this life for anything. I am content to keep writing by faith because I am writing a story to tell The Story. Lives will be impacted for the sake of the Gospel, so it's worth every sacrifice. Thanks again for your very timely word this morning. I agree with David, who commented at 11:00, this may be the best post I've seen written on this subject. I hope your day and your writing is blessed.
Patti Hayes

Gina Conroy said...

Oh to have your faith and outlook all the time, Patti! You are a blessing! :) Thank you!!!

Tarissa Helms said...

Thank you for sharing this. I've been struggling for some time trying to help my family understand this lifelong passion. I agree with the importance of starting a dialogue. My husband and I had the best conversation we've ever had about my writing over the weekend. It didn't solve every issue, but it was a step in the right direction. Thanks, again!