I was lucky when I started to get serious about my writing – my friends and family were encouraging. Problem was, they encouraged me to do things a certain way, which meant securing an agent and pursuing a traditional publishing deal rather than going the indie route.
I still remember my mother’s first words when I handed her the proof of my first self-created paperback: “Wow! It looks like a real book!”
It’s hard to stay on course when you hear comments or advice, however well meant, to the contrary. But listening to everyone around you only ensures that you’re pursuing their dreams, not yours. So how do you fight off the naysayers and keep yourself going?
1. Do your research. The more you know about what you’re doing, the more confident you will be in your choices. When someone says, “You can make so much more money with a traditional publishing deal,” I don’t let this rattle me, because I know the facts about the industry. I know that the choice I’ve made is the best for me. But if I hadn’t done my homework, this comment might make me waiver. Know your stuff, and others’ opinions won’t throw you off.
2. Say thank you and move on. No need to get into an argument with someone giving advice. Say thank you, maybe suggest you’ll look into it, and move on. I’ve found that it’s very difficult to change someone’s opinion without material evidence. In my case, I couldn’t argue that indie publishing produced more money than a traditional deal until I’d actually made said money. If I attempted to point out those who had made money at it, my opponent called those people “outliers.” Fine. No sense arguing.
3. Make sure you’re pursuing the dream for you. If you’re pursuing said dream just to please someone else, of course you’re going to be swayed by outside opinion. Your whole purpose is to please THEM.
One of the questions I get a lot is, How did you get your spouse on board? Because my spouse thinks that if I do this, I won’t have any time left over for him/her/family.
If your partner is the naysayer, you have more of a dilemma. Whether we like it or not, our partners must be supportive to some degree. Here are my suggestions:
1. Craft a detailed plan. Figure out what it will take to make your dream come true, in terms of time, money, and other resources. Be realistic.
2. Sit down with your partner and explain the plan. Let them know how much this means to you. And then show them exactly what it will take to achieve. Be absolutely up front about what they’ll have to do to help you (maybe extra childcare duties, extra chores, less time together, etc.).
3. Set a time limit. Ask that they go along with your plan for a set amount of time, say a year. If things aren’t working out at that point, you’ll reconsider.
4. Get them to join in. Perhaps they’d be interested in helping directly. Maybe you need a salesperson to visit galleries, or a marketing person to book ads for you. Some partners are eager to help and will feel more invested this way.
5. Ask them what their dream is. Maybe they’ve never thought about it. Maybe they just need a push. Maybe you both can work on your dreams at the same time and help each other.
6. Start off by manipulating your own time, not theirs. If you dream of being an artist, get up at 5 am and paint for two hours before everyone else gets up. Write your novel during your lunch hour, or while the baby’s napping. You may want to just quit your job and work on your dream full time, but few of us have that luxury, especially with a family. Know that if you start off small, a little at a time, that time will add up.
7. Share the little victories. When you complete a painting, make sure your partner is the first one to see it. When you complete a chapter, make sure your partner is the first one to read it. Sometimes it takes seeing things to completion for your partner to get on board. Let them know that they’re so special to you that you want to share the victories with them first.
8. Show appreciation. Every single day, thank them for being supportive. Thank them for taking out the trash, for running the kids to school, for working so hard so that you can concentrate on your dream.