No matter what we’re trying to accomplish, we hope for the support of our friends and family to see us through all the ups and downs of our adventures. Sometimes, that support is a lot closer to home than we thought.
I have all sorts of support: parents, siblings, friends, co-workers, and other writers, but my number one supporter is my husband, Josh. Not only is he supportive, but he’s also a writer, which means he understands the struggles writers go through.
There couldn’t be a better day to talk about the encouragement writers need than the day before our anniversary. The day before I married a writer. The day before my writing world changed. Let’s take a look at what support really looks like when you have to share your writing space…
1. You need patience
What? Don’t you already need this in a marriage? This isn’t anything new…
Of course it’s not new. Marriage definitely needs patience, but when you marry a writer, you need even more patience than normal. There will be more opposition than normal.
- Differing writing habits will irk your nerves more often than anything else. I have an incredibly difficult time concentrating on my writing if it’s not completely silent in my writing area. Josh, on the other hand, has the opposite problem: he needs background noise (including the television).
- Okay, then write in two different locations: one silent and one noisy. Problem solved, right? Wrong. We both write in the living room. We both manage our best writing in the evening after our kiddos go to bed. We are both home every evening…
- Then how do you make it work? It wasn’t easy, but we did this thing in marriage called compromise. We decided that when we’re both working on projects, we’d trade days. He has the television on during the even days of the month, and I have complete silence during the odd days of the month.
- Differing writing processes will make your eye twitch if you think about it. I’m a planner. I like to keep a writer’s notebook. I actually enjoy working my way through the writing process. (Crazy, right?) However, Josh is more of a pantser. He plots more in his head than in a notebook, which means he makes his own writing process.
- We are different writers. We have different ways of accomplishing our writing goals. (Speaking of goals – I write mine out, and he doesn’t.) Do we really need patience here? Aren’t these just separate ways of tackling the writing process? Isn’t it okay to do things differently?
- Of course it’s okay. What’s not okay is mentioning it. The patience comes in handy when your eye twitches… Let it twitch. Let the planner jot down all the ideas, brainstorms, plot maps, etc. Let the pantser write the draft with those unwritten plans. We’re all different.
2. You need balance
Again with the stuff we already know about marriage.
I’m not simply talking about being equals here. That’s important, too, but for writers balance means a bit more.
- Be willing to shut up! There. I said it. We all know writers love to talk about whatever it is they’re writing, especially when it’s going well. However, when you marry a writer, you’re in a relationship where both of you want to talk about your own writing more often than not.
- What does that mean? It means that everyone’s talking, but nobody’s listening. You need balance. Take turns talking about your writing. More importantly, take turns listening. I’m not talking about the kind of listening where you’re really just waiting for your next chance to speak. Open your ears and listen. Ask questions, even.
- Be a sounding board. Writers occasionally have difficult times working through stories, so they want to bounce ideas off of one another. Josh and I do this often. We know when the other just needs to talk, and we know when the other needs help with a plot problem. Talking versus silence. Balance.
- Be willing to step up. Josh and I have two sons (Billy and Mikhael). We both work full-time (although I’m off during the summer), and we both have our own hobbies. We already have to balance family time with independent time. How does that work when we’re also balancing writing?
- Sometimes writing in the evenings after the kiddos go to bed isn’t enough time. Josh often likes to write in the afternoon when he’s home. If I’m at work, then the kids are at school or daycare. No problem. But summertime or weekends are different. Likewise, I’ll get an idea that needs written, and I’ll want to go somewhere quiet, which means I can’t have the kids around.
- We have to be willing to step up for each other. We should allow for the space and time needed to write that idea without any interruptions. It’s not one-sided. It’s balanced.
What about support?
Wait. You said this post was about support? Where is the support?
It’s there. The support is in the patience. It’s in the balance. It’s in the way you deal with one another’s writing quirks.
We do support each other.
We understand that we’re different writers with different ways of getting into the writing zone and different ways of approaching the writing process. We understand that sometimes we need to talk and sometimes we need to listen. We understand that there will be times when we also need to be alone with our writing.
The best lesson in support, no matter where it’s coming from (family, friend, follower), is that it’s a two-way street. A street where you have to determine the amount of patience and balance you’ll need for yourself. How much do you have to offer someone else?
Happy anniversary to Josh, the most amazing husband, father, and supporter I could have ever hoped for. I’ve learned more about patience, balance, and love these last nine years of marriage than I ever knew I could. I love you!
Where do you find support? Share with me in the comments.