Friends & Family: Help Or Hindrance?

FamilyI’ve spotted an interesting new article on the Writers & Artists’ website by Emma Chapman, author of How To Be A Good Wife (which is a novel by the way, not a handbook!).

The article’s called ‘Being Delusional: A Guide To Writing’. It’s about how easy it is to be put off when you’re writing a novel and how important it is to “firmly switch off those doubting voices” and “to surround yourself with people who allow you to believe” (that you will one day be a published author).

Emma Chapman’s husband lied to her when she was beavering away at her novel – but with good reason. Read the article and you’ll see why.

Coincidentally, I’m writing an article about how friends and family can help or hinder us as writers.

Do your nearest-and-dearest encourage you, or (heaven forbid!), laugh at you and tell you you’re wasting your time? Name And Shame Here!! (Or you can change names, to protect the not-so-innocent). Or do they just stop you writing because – inconsiderate wretches – they will keep demanding meals?!

My article will be pretty dull, if I can only give examples of my dog and Him Indoors, so if you have any top tips on ‘managing’ friends and family: their expectations, their ‘helpful suggestions’ and whether they really make the best critique partners, I’d be delighted to hear from you, either via the comments box or you can email me on Thank you!

Erewash Writers – Competitions

Now to tell you about Erewash Writers’ 2014 competitions and draws, some of which are free to enter!

As I was, ahem, the winner of their 2013 Open Short Story competition, they are, of course, close to my heart.

‘Themed’ Flash Fiction Competition 2014 – closes June 2014
Judge: Maggie Cobbett
Free to enter, 500 words max, themed comp,
Win Maggie’s book and free entry to our Open Short Story Comp. The theme, by the way, is: ‘Seize the day, but don’t be surprised if it bites back!’
Open Short Story Competition – closes September 2014
Judge: Malcolm Welshman
£3.00 entry (£2.50 for multiples)
2,000 words max, on any theme that you like.
Prizes include £100, £50, 2 x £25, free entry to future comps and a donation to a charity selected by entrants

December Draw – closes December 2014
Free to enter
Win free entry to future comps or a book

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17 Responses to Friends & Family: Help Or Hindrance?

  1. olivespastavino says:

    My husband encourages me to write, is a great editor and this week has proved to be a very helpful researcher…(I’m doing the Nibfest write-a-thon Bit late for others to enter now, but it’s been the best thing I’ve done so far. What began as a short story has turned into the beginnings of a novel and my other ‘alf has been a font (or is it fount?) of information as the novel seems to have ‘set itself’ around 1914 and he’s an expert on all that! He does however often demand feeding with food not words so I do suffer from interruptionitis….

    I don’t share much with friends, especially if it’s WIP but if I do share I always think they’re just being ‘nice’ and not actually telling me what they really think!
    Ciao – Ninette

    • It’s difficult to share with friends, isn’t it? I’m lucky to have my writing buddy, so we are sharing on a more ‘professional’ level and as we’re both writing similar types of things, we can critique each other pretty accurately!

  2. Wendy Clarke says:

    My husband has never ever been anything but supportive of my writing. Having said that, he knows that it won’t help me if he tells me a story I have written is good when it isn’t. He critiques and edits all my work before I send it off to a magazine and will tell me when I have written a ‘what’s the point of it’ story and I may or may not change it. When he likes a story, though, I know it will be a seller. Whatever he thinks of my writing, he is always encouraging and is just as pleased as I am when he sees a story in print. Having said all this, though, I CANNOT write when he or anyone else is around – I need to be by myself.

    • Wendy, thanks for your comment. Your husband is a treasure, like Tracy’s! I know what you mean about needing solitude. I do too. Even if they’re just ‘in the house’ (ie: not visible or audible!!) it’s still off-putting, isn’t it?!

  3. My family and friends are amazingly supportive, but they are NOT the best people for critiques. I don’t really get much constructive feedback from them. Only from two people who have read it. The rest offer either meaningless suggestions or no suggestions at all.
    Family and friends = great support. No help as critique partners.

    Good luck with your article!

  4. Sara Kellow says:

    What is striking about the Emma Chapman article is that her husband not only supported her, but understood what she was up against writing a first novel. Lucky her, I wonder if she’d swap for someone who is good at fixing bicycles? My husband has blind, possibly deluded, faith in me as a writer, which can actually be annoying because it doesn’t acknowledge the challenge of trying to write while working 5 days a week and looking after 2 kids. I want a bit less “just do it” and a bit more “why don’t I get the tea tonight while you work on that story”.

    • Yes, Sara I know what you mean. If you’re not a writer, you don’t understand, do you? My OH equates my writing with him writing a report. ie: Just a case of DOING IT – but we have to actually ‘create’ (oh, I sound like a real luvvie now), don’t we? Which isn’t that easy! And can’t be done ‘to order’!

  5. Tracy Fells says:

    My husband and son have both been overwhelmingly supportive and encouraging. Even my teen son shows a genuine interest in what I’m writing (and boasts to his friends well I do well), but hmm never actually gets round to reading anything. Hubby is my proofreader too and takes his role very seriously – checking words with dictionaries and looking up unusual facts on the internet. What really helps is his understanding that writing is now my career and passion, not a hobby. He’s also thoroughly supporting my MA and understands the time I have to put into that.

    • Tracy, sounds like you have a little treasure there (well, two little treasures!). Don’t think I could trust my OH with the proof-reading. I have to tell you though, that he’s claiming some of the glory for my Chudleigh Phoenix story win as he reckons he had quite a contribution to that! Hmm.. I did let him read it but I can’t actually remember him adding anything to it! But I don’t like to dampen his enthusiasm!

    • Tracy
      they sound great. It must be so difficult when you have family members who are not ‘on board’! Everyone who’s replied seems to have very supportive OHs and families but there must be people out there for whom getting time/space to write is a constant struggle and whose family pooh pooh what they are doing.

  6. My family are supportive, but I don’t often let them read anything – and certainly not until it’s finished. Will we get to see your article? Thanks for the Erewash links.

  7. philippabowe says:

    My husband is very supportive and a great proofreader (an extension of the fact that we’re both translators, working together, and have to reread each other’s work all the time) but struggles with constructive criticism, so I tend to rely on my sister, who’s an excellent reader: she writes herself, always makes time to read my work even for outrageously last minute urgent requests (“can you manage to read it within the next hour, the deadline’s at midnight tonight…”) and is not afraid to offer criticism/suggestions. She also gives me a huge amount of support and encouragement and believes in me fully – she is my writing mainstay!

    • Oh, Philippa, I am jealous of your sister! I always wanted a sister, anyway (sorry, but brothers are a bit useless! I mean that nicely, of course!) but a ‘writing sister’, now that would be perfect!

  8. Amanda Quinn says:

    I would describe my husband as ‘quietly supportive’. He gives me space and time to work and is always delighted when I’m successful. He’s not the best at telling me whether something’s any good or not but he’s brilliant at spotting things that are incomprehensible instead of intriguing! And typos too – it was his proof reading that saved my entry to your competition last year from including the sinister sounding ‘sea threat’ (instead of ‘sea fret’).

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