Becoming a Writer – Overcoming Naysayers

writerIf you have a family and friends who love and support your quest to become a writer, that is a rare gift and you should treasure us. However, if you’re like many of us, you probably got some looks and whispered comments about “she’s finally gone off the deep end” or “here she goes again.”

The Twists and Turns of the Path to Writing

Like most writers, I took many twists and turns on the path to become a writer. It never occurred to me that I could make money at my writing. Writing was just something I always did. I kept journals, wrote short stories, shared fantastical tales with my friends, cried when we played make believe because my version of our play acting was always telenovela worthy.

I can still remember being with two of my friends when we were about 11 or so. We were playing house in the little back of the pickup truck trailer we had at the time. Great fun. We had a nice little story line going when I burst into tears and began screaming about how my boyfriend had been murdered and neither of them would ever understand how that felt.

My friends stared at me for a few quiet minutes, blinking with that dazed look so many people have given me over the years. One of them said, “Geez, Lori. You should just be an actress.”

Actually, no, I should just be a writer, because writers and creative people do always have to get into the story and take things to that level.

If there is a broken light over the lamp post on my street, it had to be broken by a serial killer or a vampire who is stalking me, right?

If I haven’t heard from my husband at the appointed hour, there is a horrendous attack on his work place and he is cowering in terror somewhere.

If my keys aren’t where I put them, there is an entity in the house moving them around.

If the normal person could live inside my mind and see where it goes sometimes, they would be truly frightened for my sanity.

I suspect if you are reading this, you have similar experiences in your daily life and you already know you’re a writer. However, you may have family members telling you that you shouldn’t try to be a writer.

It’s too risky, they say. There is no stability. It is hard to make it in the writing world.

They’re Right, But They’re Wrong

It’s too risky. There is no stability. It is hard to make it in the writing world.

The thing is that they are right. It is risky to be a writer. You may never sell a thing you write. You may be broke. There isn’t much stability. Even if you start making a living, your income will be sporadic at best. There will be times of feast and times of famine. It’s hard to make it. There is a lot of competition.

Yet, if you have that little voice that whispers to you that you simply must write anyway, none of that will matter.

If you told them you were going to get a nice sensible business degree and a job at the local hotel chain with good benefits, they would support your choice, so why not this one? Why not the choice that is the air you breathe? The choice that makes you who you are in all your glorious overreactions to everyday events and your slight insanity?

I’m sorry, but while they are right in what they are saying, they are wrong because they should support you.

YOU Must Make the Decision and Change

Unfortunately, arguing with people who are “reasonable” will not change their minds. Your reason is not theirs. Instead, you must respectfully insist on your own choices.

  • Tell them you appreciate their concern, but are moving forward with your plans.
  • Set a specific time to work and refuse to be interrupted. If you are writing for an hour every day after work, tell them and then refuse to answer the door or phone during that time.
  • Change the topic if they continue to try to push their views on you.

Know that while they may truly be concerned and have your best interest at heart, this is your life and you must make the final decision on what you spend your time on.

Find Support Elsewhere

No one understands a writer like a writer or fellow creative type. Join a critique group, a local organization of writers, or an online group and gain your strength from them. As someone who faced this type of “concern” over the years, I have to tell you that you simply have to make up your mind and ignore all the naysayers. They truly do mean well (most of them anyway), but they don’t understand that clawing desire to put your stories down for others to read.


Lori Soard started Word Museum in 1997. She’s a published author and has written thousands of articles over the years for newspapers, magazines and online. She has a PhD in Journalism and lives in Southern Indiana with her husband. They have two grown daughters, both animal lovers their house is always filled with pets.

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