How Writers Can Deal with Unsupportive Family and Friends

Today’s guest post is by Lisa Fellinger. 

I often hear writers frustrated with the lack of support some receive from their family and/or friends about their writing. “Lack of support” runs the gamut from not respecting a writer’s need for time to work on their writing to teasing or harassing them for their dream to be a published author.

I’ve seen too many writers hide their writing from friends and family or stop writing altogether due to not feeling respected by those close to them for their writing dreams.

While it’s difficult to give advice without the specifics of each writer’s situation, here are some tips for how to deal with unsupportive family and friends and keep writing.

  1. Remind Yourself Their Attitude Is about Them, Not You

The biggest thing writers need to recognize and understand when dealing with unsupportive family and friends is that their attitude about you pursuing your dream of writing a book is about them, not you.

Daring to write a book is a brave endeavor. It’s something many people would love to do, but a large percentage of those who share that dream don’t ever follow through. So, first, congratulations on being brave enough to not only start writing a book but to share that dream with someone else. That is huge and worth celebrating!

But it’s exactly that bravery being displayed by a person writing a book that can be triggering to others. They may not specifically wish they could write a book, but many people have dreams of their own that they’re not showing up for, and your courage to chase after your dream of writing a book can feel threatening.

After all, if you can do it, then what does it mean about them that they aren’t? You being courageous enough to chase your dreams hits on insecurities they have about themselves, but it can be scary to acknowledge those. So, instead, they lash out at you and try to make you feel silly for thinking you can achieve your goal.

Repeat after me: it’s about them, not you.

  1. Share Your Feelings and Set Boundaries

Depending on your relationship with the person who is being unsupportive, you might have the option to just not discuss your writing with them (for example, if it’s your great-aunt you only see at Christmas). But, often, it’s those closest to you who make you feel unsupported.

In these cases, try to have an honest conversation with that person about how you’re feeling. They may not realize how hurtful their comments are. They may not have realized how much writing really means to you.

It’s possible that having an open and direct conversation with them will bring them around, at least a bit. If not, again remind yourself it’s about them and not you. You’ve made your feelings known; if they choose to ignore that, then that’s on them.

Boundary setting is essential in how you deal with family and friends who don’t support your writing. Be firm and clear with those who are unsupportive about your boundaries.

For example, if a family member makes a mean comment about your writing at a family function, clearly state to them that their comment was hurtful and if they don’t stop, you’ll need to leave. Staying quiet will only allow them to continue with their hurtful behavior. If you’ve established a clear boundary and individuals continue to cross it, then you may need to consider removing yourself from the situation.

  1. Find a Support System

While it’s disappointing and discouraging when family and friends don’t support your dream of writing, there are many individuals out there who will support it. Writing can feel like a lonely, isolating activity, but it doesn’t need to be.

Especially in this era of social media, finding a group of writers who get your lifestyle, understand your dream, and are willing to cheer you on throughout your journey is easy enough to find. Facebook groups or other online communities can be a great way to connect with other writers, share your highs and lows, receive and give encouragement, and even brainstorm ideas.

It might take some time to find a community or group that feels just right to you. But keep trying different groups—eventually you’ll find a group you click with.

Book coaches can also provide support. A book coach is a professional who helps writers through the process of completing their book. While their main focus is helping you get the words down for your manuscript, many have experience in helping writers overcome struggles that stand in their way of writing, such as dealing with family and friends who don’t support your dream. Working with a book coach can also keep you committed and motivated to complete your book when you hit a rough patch.

Last, depending on the severity of the issues with your family or friends, a counselor may also be a great support system to help you work through these issues.

  1. Don’t Let Their Judgment Stop You from Writing

While it can certainly feel disappointing when those close to you don’t support your dream of being a writer, don’t allow their judgment and lack of support to keep you from chasing after your dream. At the end of the day, this is your life. You get to live it once, and if writing a book and becoming an author is an important goal to you, you owe yourself the chance to see that through.

Lisa Fellinger is a professionally trained developmental editor and book coach whose passion is helping women writers become published authors by building up their writing skills and confidence as writers. With a background in mental health counseling, she enjoys helping writers overcome the mental blocks and challenges that stand in their way of writing their books. To learn more about her services, visit her website or follow her on Instagram.

Featured Photo by on Unsplash

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    1. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, Felicity. I’ve found it far too common, which is what inspired me to finally write this post. It’s always difficult to know how to approach it, and it’s hard as an outsider to give specific suggestions without knowing the whole story, but keep in mind it’s not about you, it’s about them. There are so many others out there who are excited to encourage your writing, so please don’t give up on your writing!

  1. A refreshing message authors need to hear! Thank you.
    I purposely chose to withhold my pen name and book details from some of my immediate family and co-workers. I didn’t need them nosing around in my personal business or revealing things on social media without my permission. It was the best decision for me, even though I am proud of my work and wish I could share it with everyone. It’s all about boundaries and being selective about who gets to share the journey with you.

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