Writing may be a solitary profession, but writers need support. They need a community (as we examined in a three-part series). The most important person in that community can—and should—be a writer’s Valentine. How and why should a writer’s significant other show support? And, what are they in for if they do? What if they don’t? How does my amazing husband support me? Keep on reading for all the answers!
Before I dive in to the answers, here’s a quick disclaimer for all links to products available through Amazon: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Supportive partners hold the keys for a writer’s success.
A writer’s SO (significant other) holds four main keys to their success.
A writer’s Valentine has to believe in their writing just as much—if not more than—the writer does. That faith multiplies the writer’s own confidence. And, when a writer feels more sure, the words flow and the stories roll.
Every writer has down days or hits blocks in writing. Self-doubt falls like Jericho’s walls and the blinking cursor on a blank page looks as impassable as the Red Sea. When a writer’s Valentine comes in with a word of encouragement and a listening ear, they change the whole writing dynamic. Writers need support; and well-timed, heartfelt encouragement shines the light through even the cloudiest of days.
Emotional support is most important, but a writer’s SO can show support in three other specific ways.
Regardless of how frugal a writer is, they’re going to have to invest a bit of money in their work at some point—editing, websites, cover designs, organizational membership fees, conferences, books, submission fees, etc.
This is likely the largest sacrifice the writer’s Valentine will need to make. Writing takes a great deal of time. Books don’t write themselves! A writer needs support as their stories take time to unfold. Sometimes books require years or even decades to reach those two magical words: The End. All writing goes through multiple drafts and revisions and, sometimes, an almost-completed work demands a total rewrite. Time is a great gift for a writer—time to work, time to read, time to research, time to study.
This ties in closely with finances. At the base level, a writer needs pen and paper to craft a tale. Not much, but to become an author today requires more tools than that. A computer with internet access is a must. Certain software programs can aid in productivity—Scrivener, Dragon Dictation, etc.
A serious writer deserves at least a small reference library. For example, fantasy writers should have books that compile details on mythological creatures and legends. One example is Abbey Lubbers, Banshees, & Boggarts: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies by Katharine Briggs. Other much-loved and often-referenced books are the writer’s thesaurus series by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. These include The Emotion Thesaurus and The Positive Trait Thesaurus.
A writer’s SO knows which pens and notebooks are their favorites, and they can make sure they stay stocked up on these as well.
A little different from the other keys to success, a First Fan is something every writer needs. Just knowing that there is always one person out there cheering them on regardless of copies sold or even any works completed gives a writer courage and comfort and confidence.
Non-supportive SOs abound.
Unfortunately, many writers don’t have a supportive Valentine. I see it all the time from fellow writers on social media. Their spouse doesn’t understand—or even try to—and won’t allow extra time or money.
First of all, shame on them! They’re sitting at the peak of the selfishness mountain. Will it be easy to be the support their partner needs? Not at all. Will it be worth it? Yes.
Plus, in choosing not to be supportive, they’re missing out on the opportunity to be the wind beneath the wings of a creative being who also happens to be the person to whom they supposedly pledged their love and partnership.
When we love someone, we desire their success and happiness. Writers and other creative-minded people simply aren’t whole when they’re not crafting something.
How to create without this special support.
If you’re one of the many writers whose partner has chosen Mount Selfish, first, I weep with you. I really do. Writing is already a challenging passion to have. But, I hope I can give you a few tips that will help or, at the very least, give you some encouragement in your journey.
Take a few minutes to sit down and think through what you’ve shared with your SO. Have you shared your dreams or explained what writing means to you and how you feel when you create worlds or develop stories? Did you write out your goals and what you hope to accomplish through your writing and share that? Have you shared your writing? When you think about the future of your writing, did you consider their role in that?
If not, then DO IT!! How can they understand what this means to you or what you’re attempting to do if you’ve never told them? Plan out a nice date-night-in complete with favorite foods and favorite shows or games and tell them you’d like to share something with them that’s important to you.
Go through all of it, from why it’s a part of who you are to where you want it to take you to how you see them sharing in that vision.
What have you asked for from him or her? Do you ask for several hours every day to write? Have you asked for a new computer? Did you ask for money and time to attend a huge writing conference?
Perhaps these requests are too big right now. Reevaluate your requests. What do you really need right now? If you’re not able to write at all, any time is better than nothing, right? You know your family schedule, but what about two hours one day a week? Or, thirty minutes to an hour 2-4 days a week? Talk it through and then schedule it; put it on both your calendars.
Do you have a computer that you can use for now? If so, can you work together with your SO to make a savings plan for a new one? Do you have to have the top-of-the-line, most expensive computer out there; or could you do everything you need on a cheaper one and save a grand?
Do you need to go to a big expensive conference? Sure! We all want to go to those, but it’s not always possible in our current seasons of life. Why did you want to go? If you say networking, I get it; but hop onto Twitter and network there. I’ve seen amazing things happen for writer friends on there because they simply put their best foot forward, found ways to engage and interact and presented a positive light on a frequently negative platform.
Back to that conference: jot down a few things you really wanted to learn. Now, hop over to Google and get to searching. I guarantee you, you will find a host of free posts and articles and even courses on that very topic. Your library might have books on it. Start with free stuff that’s easily accessible and go from there. Online courses are plentiful these days. Some are crazy expensive (in my opinion); others are not. Most will likely be less expensive than a conference, though. If you’re coming up empty, shoot me an email. I’d love to help you!
Seek out your community.
You can still find a support system. In that series on writing community, I shared my favorite online groups as well as some other ideas for finding encouragement. Check those out. You may be surprised just how many like-minded people are out there.
Search for the time.
If your significant other has slammed the door on every request for time, you may have to get creative. Whenever I want to do something (or feel like I should do something) but don’t know how I can without taking important time from my family, I’m reminded of Proverbs 31:15, part of the passage about a virtuous woman. “She also rises while it is yet night … “
Sometimes when we want to pursue a dream or see an opportunity that would be beneficial to our families in the long run (but we don’t really have time for it right now), we have to sacrifice something else to make it happen. That might be other “extras” or responsibilities we need to let go of for a season … or sleep!
Share some more.
Keep sharing. As you steal moments to write, your writing will improve and you will have more and more to share. Just keep on sharing, keep on loving and keep on showing what’s important to you.
I realize that some people just don’t change their minds about things. Some people can’t see past their own viewpoint. Your SO may be one of those. Like I tell my kids, we’re only responsible for the way we react to others’ negative actions toward us. Continue to be the positive light you promised to be for them.
I realize that may seem like an odd thing to include under “encouragement,” but I’m not stopping there!
You’re not alone!! I promise you countless other writers sit in the same spot in which you find yourself right now. Now, I’m talking specifically to the other writer moms out there because I’m one! Head over to Writer Moms, Inc. on Facebook and/or Twitter right now. Join a group of supportive and caring ladies, many of whom know exactly how you’re feeling. Let us be that extra support you need!
It’s not all hearts and chocolates.
Back to our supportive SOs (or those who’d like to be!)—I’ll be the first to tell you, writers aren’t the easiest to support. A writer’s SO has a lot to put up with, if we’re being honest.
Artistic folks tend to be a bit moody anyway. Add to that the fact that writers create characters and those characters’ emotions, and you’ve got a sea of moods splashing all around! When a main character loses a true love, the creator will feel that depression. When a character’s faced with an epic battle, that anxiety will bleed through as well.
If you’ve ever had a conversation with a writer, they may have stopped mid-sentence to embark on a pen-and-paper hunt. Or, their eyes may have glazed over a bit as you’ve been chatting. They may have randomly blurted out character names and plot fixes or story ideas. Try having a dinner date with someone who does that … never a dull moment, that’s for sure!
Once you get a writer talking, chances are they’ll ramble on and on—about events and people and battles and misunderstandings. And, chances are, all of these topics they speak of as if they’re reality exist only in their heads.
I’ve already said it—writing takes an extraordinary amount of time. So a writer’s biggest fan may only see his or her computer—silhouetted figure for days at a time.
At some point, a writer—and his or her SO—has to step out on faith, literally, and financially back that confidence in a completed work. This could mean leaving a full-time job for a part-time one or leaving the workforce completely. This could mean coming up with $1,000 to $6,000 up front to pay for editing, ISBNs, covers, publishing, marketing and so much more—with absolutely no guarantee of great financial success or even a return on the investment.
My Funny Valentine supports me unselfishly.
In a world where many writers don’t receive the support they deserve from their partners, I am humbled by and thankful for the husband God gave me. Tony is my First Fan, inspiration and refuge from life’s rain storms.
- When I get discouraged or doubt my abilities, he encourages and lifts me up.
- When I want to attend a book festival or need quiet to write or to listen to a webinar, he makes it happen.
- He washes dishes and clothes, sweeps and vacuums and so much more so I can write instead.
- Whenever he can, he looks for opportunities to take the kids somewhere so I have a few undisturbed hours at home to work.
- He listens when I talk through ideas or plot challenges. He’s the one who helped me see the greatest writing lesson I’ve learned to date. (Check back next week for the first in a series on that!)
- He’s often my first reader—and even slogs through those first rough drafts—and he’s still my biggest fan!
- He loves and appreciates the written word as much as I do; so we get to share in this passion.
- He understands my drive and my passion and why I do what I do; and, if he doesn’t completely understand sometimes, he trusts my decisions.
- He believes in me—enough to allow me the time it takes to pursue publication and set aside our money for all the upfront costs without a guarantee on a return.
- He doesn’t just love me; he loves me as I am, a writer. Writing’s a huge part of who I am and what makes me, me! He doesn’t love me despite that fact. He loves and accepts and supports me, the writer.
Writers need support.
Writers cannot—or should not—go the long journey to publication alone, and the most important person in a writer’s community should be his or her Valentine.
How does your Valentine support and encourage you in your passions and pursuits? Bragging is totally welcome in the comments below! Has he or she always been supportive? If they changed their minds, share your story below! Are you slogging through the trenches alone? Let us support and encourage you. Also, please share what keeps you going despite that lack of support. You may be able to help a fellow writer who’s about to give up on the whole crazy dream!