How do I handle people who don't believe in my writing dream?
Most of us authors and writers will come across people close to us (common) and people who are not so close to us (also common) that doesn't believe in our authorship. Writing takes up a lot of our dreams, hopes and time and it's therefore vital that we have full support. But it's not always possible to switch out people in our lives just because they're unsupportive, so what can you do?
I have someone close to me, not my partner, thank goodness, who doesn't believe in my writing. According to her, I'm not an author because I take breaks but which writer doesn't take breaks to be a better creative? That's something that I'd love to know!
But she doesn't believe in me, or doesn't want to understand the craft, and that hurts. Nevertheless, I need to continue my dream as an author. Because it's where it's at: You don't write for anyone else. You write for you.
Let those two sentences sink in. Say it out loud if need be. "You don't write for anyone else. You write for you." They're important words that I hope that you can take to your heart.
Most likely there is a reason behind why they aren't supportive of your writing dream, and it most likely has only to do with them and not with you as a person. It's easy to think that opinions come from people who know what they're talking about. But most likely it is that those that don't believe in your dreams are people who have given up on theirs.
That's why when you embark on a new journey as an author, you shouldn't expect that you'll be surrounded by yes-sayers. Expect instead that you'll meet opposition from people close to you and others. That's why it's so important to be surrounded by good friends who understand you, I'm talking about fellow authors and writers.
You find them in the #WritingCommunity on Twitter and Instagram, and in various Facebook groups for writers. Authors supporting Authors is a great Facebook group that I can recommend. Other authors knows how much it hurts when someone doesn't believe in your dream to be a published author.
That's why we fellow writers can be your best friends and support system. Take help from other writers online. That's crucial when it's hurting and you feel lonely. You need to know that you're not alone in your battle against the odds.
This is a trick I use when I meet someone who doesn't believe in my writing dreams:
Shut their words out of your head, don't listen to them when they give you negative feedback. Change subject immediately directly after they have said their opinion.
Eventually they'll understand that you don't listen to their harsh words and continue to nag about something else. If you want to you may also add a smile and eye contact to the reply, "Thank you for your opinion, I know that you care about me and means well. Sadly I don't agree with you and will pursue a career in writing."
To remain calm, collected and to choose whether to be pushed around or to stand up for one self. That is what it's all about. You have to be the one who draws a line in the sand who says that you'll accept constructive criticism and support, but nothing else. That you believe in your writing is of the most importance.
You have to set boundaries with people, especially with people who isn't treating you the way you want to be treated. They won't like that you protect yourself against their criticism. But this isn't about them and their ego; this is about your wellbeing and writing dream. Remember that!
To build up your selfesteem, is invaluable when handling other's criticism and harsh words. The best way to do this is to meet with a good counsellor or to look up online speeches by Mel Robbins who is a really good life coach. But often our low self-esteem lies in things that happened to us in the past, therefore, you may need to talk to a professional psychiatrist.
Maybe you were bullied as a child/adult, grew up with a critical parent or you have a bad inner dialog towards yourself. Or you haven't gone through anything harsh but instead have now met a person who needs to work on themselves, and not you.
You have to draw a straight line in the sand with these type of people. Stand up for yourself and stick to it. Never give in, regardless of what they do or say. This is your dream we're talking about!
As far as I know, we only have one life, and it's up to us how we live it. That means that we shouldn't give up on our dreams especially when someone criticises us for it. We can impossibly please everyone and if you are a so called "people-pleaser" you're just going to stabb yourself in the foot again and again.
Most people have an opinion about everything in life and if we try to please everyone we forget about who we need to please the most: ourselves. Validate yourself and follow your own inner compass. Don't be afraid of where this journey may leed you. You may end up in therapy with a partner or a mother who isn't supportive. You may end up in arguments who can't be solved with anything else but separation.
Regardless you should trust yourself and ask yourself if you want to have this person on your writing journey? If not, then you need to let go of them. Especially if they bring a lot of negativity into your life.
If yes, you do want to keep this person in your life (and this is without putting sentimental value on them) then you can sit down and chat to them. Explain to them how it makes you feel when they criticise you and are not supportive of your writing. Say, "How would it make you feel if I wasn't supportive of you?"
Try to reach the person you care about on an emotional level. If it proves impossible then don't be afraid to ask for help by a couple's or family therapist.
If you encounter a non-supporter that you don't know that well, then drawing a line in the sand is still your best option. You can draw the line by coming up with a witty comeback, such as:
"If everyone had an education to support every book they write, we would not have hardly any books at all. Books comes from research, knowledge and imagination."
Which was what I wished I had said when I met a critic in nurse at the hospital, when I told her I was a children's book author. She thought that you should have a diploma within education to write for children, even though just having a good idea and great betareaders suffice.
Often we don't come up with those brilliant dialogues until long after so just say what comes into mind. I said, "I am a mother. That is good enough". If you can't come up with anything, an evil stare, your quietness and changing the subject just has to be good enough too.
It's a clear line that clearly speaks "here but no further".