What to Do When Our Families Think Our 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. 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 to throw it all in 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 my 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 in 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. We’re 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
Pray, pray, and pray some more. 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 none writers. 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 along 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?