When Family Doesn't Support Your Writing

If you can empathize with the title of this post, then you're not alone.  So many writers, myself included, can honestly say they have family members who don't support their writing.  Some may go so far as to tell you they don't even want to hear about what you're working on, what you've done, what your goals are.  That hurts.

But think about it this way, in some ways is writing any different that an other life decisions your family may not agree with?  I'm sure, if you're like me, you get very defensive when it comes to your writing.  In fact, I'm not going to deny that it places an iron wedge in the relationships.  After all, if your focus in life is your writing, and they ask so what have you been up to...what are you supposed to do lie, remain quiet, answer another way even though you're so excited about your current WIP you'd tell a stranger?  Ticking clocks are heard in the background while you decide.

And maybe it's not even the fact your family members don't believe in your writing, but they have concerns over the subject matter or where writing will lead you.  I have one sister who read my first novel, LIFE SENTENCE, and couldn't put it down, and now she won't read another one because she believes I'll be distracted by fame and fortune.  (I'm sure you're laughing now.  How many authors make it large enough to be wealthy and well known, anyhow?)

My parents who have been supportive in the sense of giving me a laser printer, and a binding machine (both awesome by the way), but otherwise don't really want to talk about my writing at all.  In fact, with most of my family the subject of writing is taboo.  They haven't even seen a copy of my published book because I didn't want to get into a fight about priorities.

It may even drive the wedge in further when, by contrast, others are so proud of your writing accomplishments.  I had a co-worker say to me, they may not be proud of you, but we most certainly are.  When I received my proof, they all wanted a look.  Many bought copies for themselves, for their family and friends.  I even have another co-worker promoting me everywhere he goes.  He's read my book TIES THAT BIND three times, and he even went so far as to tell me yesterday that if I even considered not writing anymore, he'd hurt me.  People who have read TIES THAT BIND are anxiously awaiting the next in the series.  I've been told to hurry up with it many times.

But, it's one of those things that get you thinking, shouldn't family be more supportive than people I don't know as much?

We could continue to sulk in that question, marinate in it, become embittered against family.  But, remember this, people are entitled to their opinions and beliefs.  In turn it's up to us how we react.  Is it fair that those close to us choose not to support us?  No.  And we might wonder why it feels we have to make compromises.

Here's my advice, you shouldn't have to be quiet about the fact you're a writer, that you're working on a book, that you're querying, that you're published.  In my opinion, these are things they have to accept.  I'm not suggesting a major confrontation (been there numerous times, not fun), but you're "allowed" to mention it.  If they choose not to pursue the topic of conversation, that's their choice.  But be proud of who you are!  Take pride in your writing!

Also, think of it this way, isn't it better that people who barely know you believe in your writing?  I think so!


  1. My family has nothing to do with my writing, and I don't think twice about it any more. It's not them I'm writing for any way, it's for the readers who enjoy the genre of books I write. Plus my writerly friends offer oodles of enough support! :)

  2. Great post. Like you, my coworkers are WAY more enthused about my writing than my family.

    I've come to believe those closest to me don't want to read my work because deep down they're afraid they won't like it... and they might accidentally admit that. :P

    For coworkers though, there's an excitement when someone is breaking out of the box and maybe has a chance to get out of the 9-to-5 daily grind.

  3. I completely agree with you here. I was always the walking dictionary in my family. No one writes. No one owns more than a few books. No one so much as knows what an ebook is. If I was to pursue my dream, it would be entirely solo. It still is, but this is where the web and so many online communities make it all the worthwhile, as you are never truly alone amongst hundreds of people in the same shoes.

  4. If my family knew what I write (erotic romance), they wouldn't support it. So I tell them about the other genre I'm dabbling in and that's ok. I wish I could tell them everything. My in-laws know and they're awesome. Funny how that works.

  5. I am supported. But I feel like everyone thinks it's just a time consuming hobby, borderline obsession, even tho i've completed 2 books. Until i am published, i don't think i will be taken seriously...thats why i love blogging with other writers, like you! we understand each other!

  6. Great attitude Suz.

    Cara, my co-workers all wanted signed copies even if they were buying them for their spouses. Most of them say, "I'll be able to say I knew you when".

    S.J. Wist, it's so great to always remember! I'd be lost without the many writer friends I've met online.

    Amelia, it's funny how we have to adjust our topic of conversation lol I would never tell my family about my novel ELEVEN, they'd hate the cover because of the blood.

    Tara, it's awesome your family supports you. While my husband does (which is awesome! cause he's right here, and one sister does) it would be nice if they all did. (I'm greedy maybe? lol) And you'll be published one day, and I hope they take you seriously then. Even if I became an NY best seller, I'm sure my family would be like, what a beautiful sunny day... huh...

  7. My wife has not read a single word I've ever written. I can't get her to sit down and look at it, but she will spend hours looking at horse ads on craigslist. I could easily get bitter if I allowed myself. I wouldn't let my mother read anything, she would find a way to make herself a martyr out of it somehow. :)

    1. Your response just cheered me up. My family, friends and girlfriend don't take me seriously as a writer at all. No one I know has read anything of mine including my girlfriend, who would rather do just about anything else. I am published and I've gotten some decent reviews. Being a human is lonely but being a writer is worse.

  8. Darian, that would be really hard to handle! :(

  9. My husband is very supportive, but my friends are NOT. I was with two of my friends, and when I told them that I had just finished my first novel - crickets. Conversation swiftly moved on and not a single question was asked. Another friend reacted the same, so I haven't told the rest of my friends or family (other than my sister and mother, both artists).

    So weird. I find it bizarre that anyone would be upset about what I choose to pursue as a career (I'm not an assassin, for pete's sake). It saddens me to read your story, Carolyn, but you are not alone.

    I can only guess that it says more about the person who can't accept that we write than ourselves. What is says - I'm really not sure. Are they afraid we are writing about them?

  10. Jennifer, sorry to hear about your friends. I don't understand that. It's not like everyone can, or has written a book. It's hard work, and it's a talent.

    Us writers must really stick together :)

  11. Fab post Carolyn. I am blessed with am amazingly supportive hubby and family, and I thrive with that support. My husband is the one who pushed me toward the movie of Megan's Way, and I flesh out stories with two of my boys and other family members often.

    I truly feel for all writers who don't have family support. I'm here to help and lend an ear - always. That's one reason for the launching of the Women's Lit Cafe. We're uniting authors and readers and we'll be trying to help authors grow their platforms. http://bit.ly/n26aP8

    Just because your family doesn't support you, doesn't mean you're not supported. Lean on others :-)

  12. I find there are two kinds of family. The one you're born with and the one you choose for yourself. The one you choose, regardless of blood relation, will always support you.

  13. Melissa, I'm at least blessed with a very supportive spouse. He's terrific, and insists on reading all my novels first.

    I have signed up for the newsletter for updates on Women's Lit Cafe.

    It's great knowing that others are there for me. And I will do my best to be a support to others.

    Paul, very good point.

  14. I agree whole-heartedly with Paul. Very well said.

    As you know, this topic of support or lack of, applies to any life choices we make. It is currently human nature to make judgements of others for any and everything. The thing is we cannot change others, we can only change ourselves. So why not accept and love others regardless of their judgements of us?

    I believe our loved ones bring us these opportunities so we will remember who we, take our power, follow our bliss and shine!!! You go girl!!

  15. Anonymous, so true about accepting others regardless of their judgement.

    However, sometimes if they're too close-minded the relationship may be beyond salvaging. I fear that's the case with one of my older sisters. When I'm not even comfortable to make mention of my writing, I don't feel that's right. Especially when they have an interest that can dominate the topic of conversation at all times.

    You're also right though, the adversity only helps reassure who we are, and why we do what we do.

  16. Carolyn, I hear what you are saying, however, what if this relationship is showing who we choose not to be? Therefore, we can choose the experience of who we are now to be "open-mindedness" and love them anyway. As you say, be proud of who WE are!

    Sure it would be nice if everyone around us supported us and were interested in talking about the same subjects, however, where is the growth in that? Besides with family and strangers alike you will find this. Likewise, we do not support and share interests of all those we know.

    By all means, as we are doing, surround ourselves with people of like interests, in order to create synergy, however, let's not minimize the effect of adversity. Let's be grateful for it.

  17. I'm blessed here. I have an extremely supportive wife. So supportive she kicks me into the study when she senses me slacking. :)

    Love her forever. First book is dedicated to my bride.

  18. Bryce, so very nice :) Mine too, and now he's telling me to get off the net, and get to work on edits! lol

  19. Odd how it works with different people. My husband is very supportive and will even proof read my books, and my family are 100% behind me. However, it's not mentioned to my in-laws (not too sure why) and I won't tell anyone at work - I'm an English teacher but write ebook romance - the other teachers would look down on it as 'trashy' writing (they should try writing something themselves - not as easy as it looks!)

  20. Katheryn, great for you :) I chuckled over "they should try writing something themselves - not as easy as it looks!" lol

  21. Great post, Carolyn and soooo true! Writing seems somehow to be taboo with so many people. My husband is supportive and reads my work but then complains when I spend much of my time on the computer!

  22. What a relief! I thought I was the only person to have this problem. Un-fortunately I was wrong...
    Thanks for writing this enlightening article, Carolyn!

  23. Carolyn this post resonates with me right now. I am self-publishing. I am a career journalist. All of my family wanted to know me when I was the big shot on TV or radio. When I asked for support on Kickstarter, not one of them stepped up. It sucks! But you are right, nice to have the recognition for your work from people who just enjoy it for the art itself. As for family, they'll be standing in line like strangers when it hits the big screen! :)
    Hang in there!

  24. What really hurts is that not get little to no support from friends, family, or even strangers. My friends act excited when I tell them about the story and even buy copies from me, but I can never get them to keep reading. They always say they don't have time or forget but assure me that they like it. But it seems like they only say things like that so they don't hurt my feelings. It's very frustrating because I wish they would just be honest and tell me if it's bad. I would rather be told that I'm bad so that I don't waste my whole life trying to gain a bigger audience when everyone is laughing at me. And so far it has been pulling teeth to get reviews too. I finally had one friend write a review, so I guess there's that, but it doesn't help others get interested at all. I hear promises of people who say OMG YOUR BOOK SOUNDS SO INTERESTING and never hear from them again which makes me wonder, did they read it and hate it?

    1. I was paranoid about this very thing for a long time. To this day, I worry that friends and family don't take my writing seriously.

      It is possible, not that I'm trying to cast aspersions on your writing, that some may not have enjoyed it, and think they're sparing your feelings. They may not realise that you need honest feedback in order to grow as a writer.

    2. It is a fact of life, when it comes to the arts, that not everyone will enjoy everything. There is a variety of tastes, and it is this variety that makes the world an interesting place. Even NY Times Best-sellers are not loved by everyone.

      With my family, it is for religious reasons. They don't like that I write about murder and violence, although, to me it is about finding justice. To them, I still create the evil.

  25. I've been struggling with this for a while now. I printed out a MS of my first novel for my wife, and after several months, she's only a few chapters in. It sits in the living room, gathering dust and flotsam. It's not that she doesn't like reading, she has read other novels during this time. Which makes me wonder- did James Patterson write the books she's reading for her? Was he inspired by her? Is he doing it for her? Of course not...but me? Yeah, I'm doing it for her. Shouldn't that count for something?
    She has all the time in the world to read other authors; those books will be in circulation forever. But me, the love of her life, the one who is writing for her, to show her how I really feel about her, she won't make the effort. If she wrote something, I'd read it straight through, everything else be damned.
    One reason might be that she doesn't really want me to be a writer; I often get a lot of grief just for trying to do something creative (which is something that I'm not known for, I'm no artist). It's a real blow, because if the one I love doesn't like my stuff, what's the point?
    Her mother read it in less than a week, and liked it, even though the story is miles away from her comfort zone. But my wife is still on chapter 9 of my 67 chapter novel, and now I've completed the first round of edits for a second novel. I've even started on a third one! So I've decided that, like sex, it's no good if it has to be forced upon someone. If this is how she wants it to be, I can't let myself get down about it. I will have to get my support from the writing community, which seems...sad.
    On the other hand, maybe this is a great plot for another novel- the writer whose spouse won't read their stuff and it tears the marriage apart!

    1. Sorry to hear that your spouse doesn't support you in your writing. That would be very rough. Maybe she's afraid of change? Did you ever ask her why she hasn't read it through?

      Remember, though, why you write. It shouldn't be for your wife, or anyone else. Of course, as writers we need readers, but first we have to love writing. It's usually a type of therapy for us. It's a creative outlet.

      It's ironic (and disheartening) why it can work like this sometimes with those we love the most, but please don't ever let it hold you back. Like you said you have your writing community. You will always have that.

  26. This is an old post, but I'm glad you left the comments open on it. My husband is very supportive of me, but my grown kids are less so. I've never been the "Betty Crocker" kind of mom... I've always been passionate about things other than my family. Don't get me wrong, I love them passionately, but my focus has always been on writing and the other creative outlets that drive me. The kids feel as if I choose to be "a creative" in what little spare time I have more often than I choose to be "a grandmother", and I have to admit that's true. I've been the head of household for many years and my day job has come before family out of necessity. Now that I'm nearing an end to the day job, they're upset because I'm so excited to have more time to write and work on my writing career - which I cannot do if I'm babysitting the grandkids all of the time. I want to spend time with my grandkids and kids, but my focus is more on my writing opportunity. Not only that, I'm newly remarried after a long marriage to a spouse who did NOT support me, neither as head of household (which is why I was the one doing it) or as a writer. For the first time in my adult life I'm truly happy and my daughter tells me she's jealous of the time I spend with my husband and life apart from them. I've done a good job raising my children and I'm very proud of the adults they've become. But I want my own life now and they resent that now. *sigh* I absolutely hate feeling as if I am between a rock and hard place, feeling guilty for choosing to live my own life rather than continuing to live it for others instead as I have for the past 28 years. I hope I can find a balance that feels right, but I'm afraid nothing I do will ever be enough for at least my daughter.


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