Every writer at any step of their career has to deal with outside negative feedback from critiques, rejections and perhaps reviews. And most writers will be able to count on their close support system in the form of spouses, family and best friends to get over the rough spots.
But what to do when the close support is not there or worse when the negative feedback regarding your writing comes from the people closest to you.
When that happens, it is doubly hard to survive trying to carve yourself a writing career, but it doesn’t mean you have to give up your dreams.
Assess the situation
First you need to assess the situation with honesty. Is there any truth in the bad feedback at home? Have you been so engrossed in your writing and writing commitments that you have forgotten all about the ones you love? It yes, perhaps you need to pay a little more attention to how you spend your time and find the right balance to both meet your needs with theirs.
But what if you truly honestly are balancing well your writing with other parts of your life? Yet you still get increasing pressure from people close to you who demand you stop writing altogether, or keep intruding in the time you set aside for writing and act as if it is not important, or say things such as that your time would be better spent scrubbing the floor than writing stories. You think I may be exaggerating, but I’m not.
And for those who are in that situation, it is important to speak up. Tell other writers why you can’t make up that writer’s meeting or conference, that the manuscript or critique may be late and that it is because you just don’t have the support at home to help you free that extra time to do what most writers can easily do without a thought. If these things are a constant battle, the first step is to tell others.
Why tell others? Because you need support. Yes, some people very close to you are against or enjoy making fun of your writing, but not everyone. If you speak up, you may find your own cheerleaders in the strangest places. If you talk about it, you will find people who do understand and want you to be happy doing what you love. It may be another family member, a close friend, your neighbor. And if all fail, for sure, other writers will be there for you if you ask.
Every writer has struggled at one time or another and they all understand. Talk about it and reach out for that support so that when you do have rejections from the outside you have someone to talk too, someone that believes in you and will help you get back on your feet.
At some point, you need to own your writing and be brave. It is hard but it can be done in tiny steps. I credit Bob Mayer to teach me about courage in his Warrior Writer class. When there are no places to retreat, you have to find your courage and face your fear. What is the worst thing that can happen if you sit down after dinner for an hour and just write no matter what? What if you hire a babysitter on a Saturday so you can go to your RWA chapter meeting? For some writer living with constant negativity, those things can be scary or bold to do and that is where you need to face your fear and, slowly, one at a time, do those things that may lead to arguments and snide remarks. The more you do it, the easier it will become.
A lot of people will tell you that if you want people to take you seriously, you need to take yourself seriously and act professionally. That means making deadlines and schedules and sticking up to them. That is very true but sometimes for another reason. Some people will never take you seriously, period. It is not something you do. It is something within them. No matter what you do, your close critiquers will probably never change. But, if you do act professionally, something within you will change. You will be more confident and believe in yourself. You will be more able to act with courage and write proudly no matter what.
Don’t wait for things to become better in order to be brave. You may think that those who are against you now will accept your writing once you achieve positive results. The truth is that winning contests or making that sale will not make things better. There will always be something else, the advance is too small, you are away too much, spent too much money or time on promotion. If people don’t want you to write, becoming a successful writer will not make them accept it more. Be brave, take those few courageous steps now and don’t wait to do what is needed for you to become a writer.
You have the right
Yes, you have responsibilities as wife, mother, daughter, girlfriend, and so on (and the same applies to men artists). But you also have the right to be happy. I am not saying here to be selfish, but you are an individual and you do have the right to be happy and to do something that you really enjoy just for the sake of it. You have the right to have dreams and work towards achieving them.
Yes, it may take some time away from others, but who decided that (mostly) a woman found true happiness only through making others around her happy. And so if some around you don’t believe you should be happy, remind yourself that you are an individual person who, like everyone in the family, has to right to be happy.
Start making small steps towards acknowledging to others that your writing matters whether by saying it out loud or by simply acting like it does. Be brave and the outcome may surprise you. Things and people in your life may actually change in a way that makes you truly happy, where you can find a place where you can both write and be at peace with those closest to you.
Marie-Claude Bourque is the American Title V winner and author of ANCIENT WHISPERS, a sensual gothic paranormal romance filled with sorcerers and Celtic priestesses in search for eternal love in modern time. She worked as a climate research scientist, a scientific translator and a fitness expert until she turned to fiction writing. She draws her inspiration from the French legends of her childhood and a fascination for dark fantasy.ANCIENT WHISPERS, a Dorchester –Love Spell release is available now wherever books are sold. Find more at www.mcbourque.com and don’t forget to enter the contest for her month-long virtual release party at www.mcbourque.com/launchparty
Gabriel is the youngest member of the Priory of Callan—an ancient Celtic brotherhood of cursed sorcerers and alchemists, each with deadly abilities and each haunted by a tragic past. Tortured by the devastating loss of his fiancée in 1755, Gabriel wants nothing more than to reunite with his soul mate.
Two and a half centuries later, Gabriel is still searching for his love. And then he finds Lily Bellefontaine. Cool-headed and practical, she has no memory of Gabriel. But she also can’t deny the pull of attraction drawing her under his seductive spell, urging her to give in to the…ANCIENT WHISPERS