The desire for support is a constant theme I see coming up in forums, articles and many conversations that writers have. I wish someone would talk about what makes writers feel this way, beyond the possibility of paranoia and depression. Could it be that we writers actually don’t get the support we need to continue working? We are great communicators on paper, but are we great at communicating interpersonally? We’re each human and that translates to frequent miscommunication.
What do you do, though, if you’ve clearly communicated your needs to those around you without alienating them and are still not getting the support needed?
There’s a lot you can do. You can first of all, go out and seek those who will support you. Today’s technology allows us to have worldwide friendships where language isn’t much of a barrier. That gives us millions of people to reach out to, who are looking to reach back. Easier said than done for authors, a cohort known for being pretty reclusive.
Today’s world, however, is changing how authors interact in it. Not only is publishing easier, but contacting actual readers is now possible daily. We may not always like what they have to say to us, and this may push writers to become increasingly reclusive. Trolls aren’t to blame alone. The general public can say things they don’t realize are offensive, and don’t even really think about. Besides, if you’re connecting on social media, the written word can be interpreted incorrectly—or correctly. Let’s face it, saying something to someone who makes their livelihood off of written word and then expecting it to go over their head is expecting too much.
What I have done to deal with difficult people is to give them no quarter. There is no reason at all that I need to let them hangout and abuse me and others. The cost is far too high to everyone they target. So, block them. They’re only going to spend your energy, which is going to keep you from working on your project. There’s a very key element to getting your work done.
If you want support, you’re going to need to be your best person. Getting plenty of rest and moving at an adequate pace will help your mood immensely. If you need to do a schedule, do so. Eat right, get exercise—do all of that. It matters. When your mood is good, and your health is right, you can do a lot without much thought to who has your back and who is going to be there when you need to do some heavy lifting.
Miserable people are often lonely people. Fake people are often surrounded by people of similar temperament.
When you read advice about being genuine and sharing your true self, this is what those pieces are getting at. If you think you can take without giving, such as following people on social media and then unfollowing them once they’ve followed you back, you’ll find that people pick up on this emptiness fairly quickly and will avoid you. All relationships are about fair giving and taking. Everyone fully expects to be asked for something for a friend at some point, and that is all right so long as friends have been real with them all along.
Being vulnerable isn’t a character flaw. Having the softness of being human is not something to cast aside like refuse. The world is quite hard without us making ourselves hard in meeting it. Softness should be cherished. It is what allows us to bend to the storms of life and to fit the quirks of those we care for.
When you’ve done all this and you still find yourself lacking that support, you can reach out to other artists and team up to accomplish goals. This is probably more likely to be successful than leaning on those who have no investment in the industry. But, you’ll also notice that partnerships require equality of sharing the work you agree to work on together. This hearkens back to my words about being fair to friends and loved ones in how you make demands of them, being sure to give back for their needs.
Tools exist all over the internet to work with other artists. Fiverr.com is a place where you can hire people to do work for you. Setting up groups in social media is a way to commiserate and make connections. There is crowdfunding and free promotion applications. Look into them. These are people reaching out to help, in a way that everyone wins.
Be creative and don’t give up. Eventually, with perseverance, you won’t need to scrape around for support. People will be breaking down the walls to be asked into your circle and droves will be helping you without you raising a finger to do so. And, remember, above all other advice, these things take time. You can hate hearing that as much as I do, but it is absolutely true.