For every person who ever told you:
- “Why don’t you get a real job?”
- “You know you’re never going to get rich or famous doing that, right?”
- “You’re wasting your time.”
WRITE ALL THE MORE. WRITE OUT OF SPITE.
This came up recently at one of our NaNoWriMo meetups – The fact that many of our writers were getting all kinds of negative comments from friends and family, even spouses! One person said, “Oh, you’re STILL writing? Did you ever publish that other novel you wrote?” When the answer was no, they were confused as to why our friend was still writing. Obviously because she had written one (actually she had written more than one) novel and it had yet to be published, she should just stop writing altogether. Not only is this a very discouraging and hateful thing to say to a writer who may wish to be published, it also discounts any other goal the writer may have. Maybe publishing a novel isn’t the end all be all for that writer… Maybe they just… *gasp* enjoy writing!
Sara Taylor Woods‘ response to this story was simply: “Write out of spite.” I liked the phrase; it struck a chord with me. (PS: Go read her blog. She’s hilarious and awesome, and a fantastic writer. Trust me on this.)
It’s a generally accepted fact by most writers I’ve spoken to that you’re going to write 5-10 novels before you get one published, if you’re lucky. The idea that you write a novel, have it published, and then go on to write the next one is just unrealistic. That’s not how it (usually) works. There’s a thing called “practice novels.” These are the novels you write when you’re learning how to write. (I consider myself still in this stage) And you’ve got to write lots of those first before you get anything worth publishing. Again… assuming that’s even your goal. Some people just enjoy writing for themselves and their friends, and don’t want to be published. That’s okay too. But you know what’s never okay? Discouraging a writer from writing. For any reason. Ever. It’s not okay.
Unfortunately, I too have some pretty negative people in my life that I just have to filter out in order to keep going every day. Well. We’ll just see how negative they are when I hand them my first published book. See what I did there? That’s putting spite to work. Writing out of spite. It’s a good motivator.
But in all seriousness. If you are feeling discouraged by the haters in your life, be proactive about it. Get out there and find some great writer friends who will build you up rather than putting you down. Form a critique group of good writers who will tell you when you suck (because sometimes we do need that, yes) but also tell you when you’re good, and ALWAYS encourage you to keep writing.
If you live in the middle of nowhere and don’t have any local writer friends, join a site like NaNoWriMo and participate in the annual 30 day novel challenge. Or Writing Forums, or the forums at Writer’s Digest. In the age of the Internet, there is no excuse not to get out there and befriend some writers who will encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing.
In short: Do what you do. Ignore the haters. Because after all: