Write Out of Spite: Dealing with Would-Be Dreamkillers.

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.”


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:


7 thoughts on “Write Out of Spite: Dealing with Would-Be Dreamkillers.

  1. I love this! I have had family members laugh at me because I wanted to write. Guess who is on very low contact from me now? Yep, you guessed it. The family members who laughed at me. I even had one family member say that there was no way I could have heard a particular author/editor speak or know said person because they wouldn’t live where I lived. I was so mad that I was speechless. Afterwards I realized I should have said, “Just because I live in a smaller city than you doesn’t mean that well-known people don’t live here too.”
    I’m going to adopt the ‘write out of spite’ saying.

    • Wow, they straight up accused you of lying about seeing an author? Man…

      I am a strong believer in the idea that success never comes without haters. Some people will always begrudge your achievements.

      Thanks for your comment! ^_^

  2. Write out of spite is a great mantra. My husband is the only other creative writer I know, so we enjoy bouncing ideas off of each other. He writes screenplays and I write prose but we have helped each other out of writing jams on more than one occasion. Most of the people I know can’t possibly understand why I write, but I just tell them it’s cheaper than therapy and move on:)

    • That’s wonderful that you have that kind of support from your husband, Jennie! My girlfriend is so great about encouraging me too, always asking how the current work is going and eager to see drafts when I’m ready to share them. I think it’s very important to have that kind of support in a partner, for sure.

      Thanks for the comment! ^_^

      • You’re quite welcome. Writing is such a solitary craft that most people don’t “get” – it makes it easier that Bill “gets” me. I’m glad your girlfriend “gets” how important it is to you.

  3. Reblogged this on Tammy J Rizzo and commented:
    My father-in-law kept trying to convince me I’d never get anywhere with my writing because you have to know ‘people’ to be published. When I told him I DID know ‘people’ in the publishing world, he moved on to the ‘fact’ that sending out a good manuscript was a sure-fire way for it to be stolen by some editor and published as someone else’s work. I told him how everyone in the publishing business kind of knew each other and certainly talked about each other, and any editor who swiped a promising manuscript would be blacklisted by all the others. For some time afterward, he looked for any other reason I should stop tryying, all in an effort to spare me disappointment. I know he loved me, and, to his credit, in part he WAS trying to spare me, but it was still very difficult. In the end., I think he came to understand that it didn’t matter to me if I got rejected or not, as long as I was writing, I was happy.

    • Some people will always have an excuse for discouragement. But I just always ask myself whether I would try and fail or never try at all. The answer is always the former.

      Thanks for the reblog and comments, Tammy! Hope you’re having a great Tuesday!

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