Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Posted by Laurel Garver on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 8 comments
I'm fortunate to have great support both inside and outside writer/author circles. But that outside support didn't come simply from wishing for it. I had learn how to be open with friends about my struggles and my needs. Some friends came through with help I didn't know to ask for, others asked "how can I help?" and wanted some direction and education to be a good support.

My intuitively helpful friends and the support they gave is at the heart of the list below. Share it with the people who love you and wish you well, with thanks for all the ways they already brighten your world.

Six tips for supporting writers  

1. Take an interest. Ask what they’re working on, what they like about it, where they’re struggling.

2. Offer resources. Research can be a major challenge--offer helpful Internet links, books, and access to experts the writer could interview.

3. Provide practical helps. Babysit or invite the writer’s kids for a playdate with your kids. Offer to drop off their dry cleaning when you’re planning an errand run. Carpool. Take the family an occasional meal.

4. Encourage. More than anything, writers need voices of hope in their world. Writing is labor intensive and filled with rejection and disappointment. Writers need to hear that stories matter, that using their gifts brings more light into the world.

5. Advise only if invited. Writers need sounding boards, so let them bounce ideas off you very informally, and give them a sense of what might or might not work in a story, based on your life experiences. But please beware of telling a writer he or she should write. Writers can give their hearts and talents only to a story that captures their own imagination.

6. Celebrate. When a writer publishes something, even if it’s in an online literary magazine, praise them and celebrate with them. Share links on social media sites. Purchase copies of their work for yourself or as gifts if it’s a genre that might appeal to others more than to you.

[This is a modified expert from my October guest post for Connecting Stories, the blog of Lynn Simpson]. 

How well are you supported outside the writing community? What steps might you take to make your needs and wishes known to non-writer friends and family?

8 comments:

  1. It varies. My husband does technical writing for the navy nuclear program and never reads fiction, so when I excitedly told him my word count one day his response was - That and $1.50 will buy you a cup of coffee.
    But there have been other times he'd been very supportive, but I'll never, never let him read my work. He's too close. His opinion matters too much.

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    1. Technical writing is a very different animal from fiction. Emotional trueness doesn't even enter the picture. Good that you know what his strengths and weaknesses are as a possible support.

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  2. love the tips...especially advise but only when asked. it can be true!

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    1. I can't tell you how many times I've had people advise me about how to make it big in publishing, and it almost always involves jumping into some genre I know nothing about. It tends to just discourage me, which I doubt was the intent.

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  3. My non-writing friends want desparately to see me write! I need them to hold me accountable to what I have set out to do more than anything else at this time. And they are more than willing to do that. It is so important that we be vulnerable to tell our close ones what we need. People generally want to be helpful but do not know always how to be.

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    1. I agree that they want to help, but don't know how. It's up to us to ask for the help we need. Hope this tips list is helpful (though you've of course see it before! Thought it might be good to share again.)

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  4. I think it feels weird to be offered or accept anything other than #3 and #6 from non-writers. And I usually squirm when asked what I'm working on.

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    1. Interesting. People as about any other day job, so why not writing? And people who aren't in the same trenches have been amazing encouragers to me. Being told by someone who reads that what you does matters feels different, like a breath of fresh air, compared to hearing a peer say it. Sometime I think my writers peers are just whistling in the dark to keep their own fears at bay. Outsider perspective widens my understanding so much.

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