The only thing more difficult than being a writer is being married to one.
Please note: no husbands were harmed in the making of this post. This is my observations on a difficult subject: How to get support from a significant other. This post won’t save your marriage or get everything you want out of your mate (if it could I could give up my day job and make millions). These are my opinions and observations. I’m sure their is a million other topics I don’t cover, and a million ways to fix the ones I did highlight. Hopefully you will leave your comments and tell me your thoughts on it- even if it is to tell me I am wrong.
Stop for a minute and think about WHY you chose your significant other. Think about it. Think about it. Go give him or her a hug, send them a text, tell them you love them and then get back here! You will be glad you did.
1. Being an author is a JOB. I repeat – your dream is for this to be your career or maybe it already is. Most people got to work from 9-5. They get dressed. They drive to their specified location. They come home and are expected to drop their job related “stuffs” at the door. You need to find a way to do that.
Your lead, Peggy Sue, not cooperating? Think of her as your coworker. Have your mini rant, then back off. Would you go on and on if Peggy Sue broke the copier for 3rd time this week? Okay, maybe you would, but your significant other would quietly nod while he/she thought about something else. Don’t be surprised if he or she does it to you while you ramble on about imaginary things.
2. You want him/her to treat you like your a professional, be professional. Know your industry inside and out. Make time to hone your skills. Prove to yourself that you have what it takes. He or she will see that and respond in kind.
3. Are you a workaholic? A writer’s brain never shuts off. I get it, but you have to make time for the things that really matter in your life. You spouse, you boyfriend/girlfriend, your lover… they matter. Don’t forget it. Make them a priority. Carry a little note pad. Discretely write notes; don’t just run to the computer while the two of you are interacting. I’ve done this. The results were less than ideal.
4. Talk about the things that will effect your relationship. Use terms like “I feel”, “I want”, and if it’s really important, “I need”. Avoid anything staring with “you”. The second you say, “you,” there is an argument waiting to happen.
Example: “I feel like I don’t have enough time to write. I want to take a look at our schedule and see if we can set aside time so I can focus on my writing. I need x amount of hours a week. Can we look at our schedule?”
Counter Example: “You don’t support me. Every time I sit down to write, I can’t accomplish anything because…”
You lost your mate at “you.”
5. Make sure they understand the process. I couldn’t believe how complicated it is to get published. Seriously. You have to write the book. Hate it. Edit it. Edit it some more. Have some one else edit it. Edit it again. Maybe send it off to another and follow it up with another edit. Just when you think you have a book ready for print, you realize you have to write a synopsis, a query letter and an outline. That stuff was easy compared to what comes next. You have to convince someone else, an industry professional, that you aren’t a total newbie and that you have what it takes. Great. So now your agented. Now there is the waiting game for a publisher and then you guessed it… another round of edits. While your doing that you have to think about stuff like websites, marketing, cover design, bio’s, and the list seems endless.
If it’s daunting for us, it’s no wonder they think we are crazy! See it from their point of view. You’re talking to imaginary people, want to break into an amazingly difficult field AND you want it to monopolize your every waking moment? Think about it. I know they have!
6. Patience only lasts for so long. When we write, being accountable to ourselves is difficult enough. Being accountable to a significant other can be earth shattering. Discuss real and obtainable goals. Go through the paces. Write. Edit. Rinse. Repeat. Query. Publish. Yeah! (if only it was that simple.)
7. Be realistic There are some super stars in the field their first time out, but realistically 1 book published does not a career make. 3 books may not change that. It may take you months if not years to even be ready for that step. If you want your significant other to support you, make sure they understand that. Make sure you know that.
8. Take an interest in their hobbies and careers. You want them to be interested in yours, right? Return the favor.
9.Make him feel like she/he is part of your writing world without beating her/him over the head with it. Warning: this is not always an easy thing to do. Writers are an eager breed. We like to talk about what we do with anyone that will lend us an ear. Just because our mates are readily available, doesn’t mean they want to be your first line of contact. If you truly need some help and no one else is available… Be specific. I need to get character A to figure out a way to cross the river to get to character B. The bridge is out. What you think I could do. They may have the answer and they may even find it fun. Mostly they will want to just help you. Helping you means you may like them better. Talk about a win/win.
10. Talk with others who are perhaps better able or at the very least more willing to talk to you about your book at all hours of the morning. Twitter, face book, writing groups, writing buddies, aspire and inspire and other websites are all great ways to network and get ideas. Use them as your first line of contact.
BONUS: Talk. Talk. Talk. If they don’t know it’s a problem how can they fix it. Every writer has different needs. I often hear complaints about not having enough time. Ask for it. Set aside time for it. I hear, “He doesn’t get it!” Tell him. Explain to him what you are trying to do and what you need. “She doesn’t like that I am doing it. Or she doesn’t believe in me.” I would be surprised if someone you loved would actually say that to you. Chances are it is your insecurity. If not…that’s for someone far more qualified than I am to fix.
The truth of the matter is, your significant other WANTS you to be happy AND successful. They just need to know how to help you. Good luck with your relationships and your writing. Having that number one best seller isn’t any fun without someone to share it with 🙂