Writers face some unique challenges in pursuing their craft. Some of these differences — such as the difficulty of finding a job in your field after graduation — have been minimized or eliminated in our current economy where everyone is struggling to find jobs even remotely close to what they trained in or have experience in. But others of those challenges belong fairly exclusively to writers. (Check out this hilarious, but oh-so-true article by Electric Lit: If Strangers Talked to Everybody like They Talk to Writers.)
One of these remaining challenges is that many writers struggle to be taken seriously by family and friends.
Yes, I’m going there.
I’m fortunate: I have many, many people in my life that have been super-supportive of my writing ambitions despite how long I’ve been working on my novel and the lack of writing credits to my name. They truly believe that some day… Some day I’ll be published. And I’m so grateful for their loyalty and faith — it’s something to hang on to on those days when I feel like I’m never going to finish my novel, let alone ever see it in print.
Others don’t have it so lucky. How many of you struggle to make those around you understand that when you’re writing, they need to treat it as if you’re working in a “REAL JOB”? That is, no interruptions until you’re done your writing session.
Well here’s the tough love part of this post: if you want others to take your writing seriously, you need to take your writing seriously. That means not answering the phone while you write. (Check your voicemail after the call if you need to, to assure yourself that it wasn’t an emergency and when it’s not, continue writing!) It means not responding to texts (except again, for emergencies). It means giving yourself the space, both physical and mental to write — i.e. no writing in bed with the TV on across the room.
It means writing regularly.
I found this great post called 7 Habits of Serious Writers. I highly recommend it. She echoes some of my suggestions and has several other ones like of all things, reading:
“By reading, you’ll see how other writers tackle similar problems. You’ll learn what works, and what doesn’t.You’ll know what’s been done before, over and over again, and what hasn’t.
“You should definitely read work by other authors in your area: if you’re writing a thriller, read thrillers; if you’re writing a sales page, read sales pages. But, ideally, you’ll want to read as widely as possible – leaving yourself open to new ideas and techniques.”
And about behaving professionally:
“Having a professional attitude to your writing means, essentially, taking it seriously. Valuing what you do, and doing it well. […]
“If you write fiction, professionalism means following submission guidelines carefully, presenting your best work, and respecting other people’s time.
“Even if you’re not yet making any money from your writing, it still pays to behave professionally. Other writers – and associated gatekeepers, like agents and editors – will take you much more seriously.“
Bam! In other words, treat your writing as a job and not as a hobby. (For those of you who do consider your writing a hobby, this is clearly not directed at you!)
Make your writing a priority in your life and make it important in your life and soon the people around you will start to treat it the same way. And if they don’t? Can’t let that stop you!
And if all this isn’t enough, read these reasons why you should take your writing seriously: Five Reasons Why Your Writing Matters (Even if No-One Will Take You Seriously).
Now get writing!