Many creative workers (writers, artists, musicians) are blessed with people who enthusiastically support them in their creative life.
Some have spouses, parents, and other well-meaning people who either give tepid non-support to their writing (or other art) – through lack of interest or understanding – or actively undermine, disparage, or attack their work.
When writers thank those who have supported them, they mean every word – because the opposite can be devastating.
Writing As Secret Lover
Sometimes lack of support is really a jealous reaction to the time, energy, passion, heart, and soul you pour into your art. At some level, this jealous reaction is a reasonable response to the time you spend locked away in the fevered grip of your manuscript. The solution can be lots of dialogue about your art, its importance to your well-being, as well as making sure to lavish attention on the jealous lover as well. This kind of reaction will most often come from someone who is not an artist themselves, because…
Writing As Obsession
…artists understand the obsession. Non-artists do not. I will posit that creative work is fundamentally different than non-creative work. Having done both – and having been a certified work-a-holic my entire life – there is nothing quite as obsession-inducing as creative work. It can be all consuming, and history is rife with people who have been consumed by it. When was the last time you heard of an engineer so taken with his work that it drove him mad or sent him into a great depression or brought on thoughts of suicide? (Tesla’s the only obsessive engineer I can think of, and I think his madness was quite separate from his love of electricity.) Creative work is a kind of madness, a living outside of reality that we pursue with equal parts terror and delight. Someone who hasn’t experienced it can’t understand it… unless they actually do, and then…
Writing As Fulfillment
… they become mean. The person who attacks your work, who tells you to get a real job, who tears you down as a lazy dreamer that will never amount to anything… that person knows exactly what your art is: a fulfillment of your potential as a unique, creative person. It’s your reason to be on the planet. You were created to create. The angry, mean person who is attacking you is almost certainly someone who feels the harsh sting of jealousy as you fulfill your creative potential (for more on this, see The War of Art). To be fair, they may not consciously be aware of this jealousy, or that they desire a creative life of their own. Most likely, it’s a nameless ache inside, a hole that remains unfilled, and that pain gets funneled into anger when they see someone else who is… whole. The response to this is: 1) to see the attack for what it is, which can drain the attacker’s slings and arrows of their wounding power, and 2) invite and encourage this unfulfilled person to seek their own creative expression. I have tremendous belief in the power of creative work to transform people. Indeed, it is almost impossible not to be transformed during the act of creation. So gently encourage this detractor to find their own creative work – or simply be the example of a creative life that will continually call to them. Trust me, your existence is hurting them much more than their words can ever hurt you.
(Alternatively, 3) if possible, find someone new to hang out with.)
In the end, know that the only support you truly need is your own – having the support of others helps, but no one can stop you from doing your creative work, and you alone are responsible for seeing through the full expression of it.