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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Does Your Partner Know How to Support Your Writing?

Question-lightbulbWriting is hard. Certainly it’s not too much to ask that your spouse/partner refrain from sabotaging you. Surely, you should be able to expect your spouse/partner will  give you the support you need. That’s part of the deal, right?

But does your partner know what that means?

Support comes in many forms from different people. What one person thinks is helpful, another might perceive as intrusive or irrelevant.

For example, a writer’s spouse might ask “Honey, what do you want me to make for your lunch?” Some writers would be touched by the thoughtful gesture; others would be annoyed, muttering to themselves “I wish s/he would just shut up and leave me alone.”

Does your spouse/partner know how to support your writing? Do your friends and family members? Do you?

Do you know how the kind of support you need changes as you move through different stages of the writing process?

Give Yourself and Your Partner the Gift of Clarity

write anywhere canstockphoto7415691 (2)Take ten to fifteen minutes to freewrite about who you want to support you as a writer and how you want each person to do that. What exactly would it look and sound like when each person supports you?

Also write about what you’re willing to do for each of those people to keep the relationship reciprocal and balanced.

Finally, ask yourself if the person you want support from is capable and willing to provide that kind of support. A person may want to support your writing, s/he may think and say s/he supports you, but the truth is you can’t give what you don’t have.

If a person doesn’t know the difference between third person close and omniscient, s/he can’t give you feedback about which you use. If a person doesn’t appreciate and make time for her/his own creativity, s/he will be hard pressed to appreciate and value making time for yours.

Don’t Expect the Impossible

If you expect your spouse/partner to just know when to leave you alone because you need to concentrate, when you want her/him to talk and brainstorm with you, and when you want her/him to just listen to you talk about the writing, without any signals from you, you’re expecting the impossible.

If you want your spouse/partner to be your first reader who gives you insightful feedback to guide your revision and simultaneously tell you that you’re the greatest writer in the world, you don’t need to change a thing, you’re expecting the impossible.

If you expect your spouse/partner to always be there for you and to understand that you can’t always be there for her/him, you’re not being fair.

Expecting the impossible or even something the other person is not comfortable doing, sets both of you up for disappointment and frustration.

Give your spouse/partner, friends and family the best possible shot at supporting your writing. And be prepared to do the same for them.

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4 Comments on “Does Your Partner Know How to Support Your Writing?”

  1. erinleeinreallife April 9, 2015 at 5:00 pm #

    I tried talking to my family about this and all I got was a question asking what was so important about what I’m writing in a mocking, derisive tone. They seem to think that spending my time writing is a frivolous and useless endeavor. Although one family member went as far as to suggest that I put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on my bedroom door if I wanted time to write, which was an interesting idea.

    So what do I do now that my family has made it clear they do not wish to support me in pursuing my writing project/s? Any advice?


    • rosannebane April 13, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

      Hi Erin Lee, the Do Not Disturb sign is a good idea. While it may sting that your family doesn’t share your passion for writing, consider yourself freed of all future attempts to impress them or win their approval with your writing. Don’t take that personally. You can now write whatever intrigues you without worrying about what your family will think (because they’ll probably never read what you write). Don’t expect them to give you what they don’t have to give. Find other ways to connect with them. And find other people who can give you support and encouragement.

      Your family simply may not value writing (or is afraid that if you do something creative, they could too and that’s scary). Not everyone has to write or value writing. But your family should at least respect your choices and it sounds like they’re willing to respect a “Do Not Disturb” sign.

      Not everyone in my family is interested in what I write and that’s just fine. I’m not interested in everything they do either. Your audience will be much larger than your family.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Julie M. Evans April 8, 2015 at 2:02 pm #

    A “sign” that means “Don’t interrupt me right now… I am on a roll, so don’t even speak to me….” is helpful. My college roommate and I had a pact that if one of us was wearing a headband, the other one would not even say hello. Worked great!


    • rosannebane April 8, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

      Great idea Julie. I wonder if this part of the reason Steven King writes first drafts with the office door closed.


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