Writers need cheerleaders

Illustration of hand in thumbs up position made of round wheels of bright colors, from Writers Need Cheerleaders, by Beth Mende Conny

To write a book, we must enter unknown territory. Having supporters to cheer us on makes our travels less frightening.

Ideally, these folks will lend us their ears and hearts; offer suggestions and a shoulder to cry on; build us up, not tear us down. They will journey with us and benefit from our efforts, directly or indirectly.

It doesn’t always happen that way, of course. We may well have to ask, prod and teach them to give us the support we need. Even the most enthusiastic among them will occasionally lose their patience and say, “Enough of your crazy ideas. Wash the dishes.” But so it goes. And so we must go, solo if need be.

But it rarely turns out that way. If we are smart about it and discriminating, we will surround ourselves with the right people. The key is to choose our audiences carefully.

I got this advice from my father, himself a writer. He wasn’t talking about readers, per se, but the people with whom we share our dreams: family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, etc. We’ve got to choose them wisely, most especially when we are new to a writing project.

Do not share your writing dreams with negative people! Avoid anyone who accuses you of being unrealistic, perhaps delusional; anyone who ticks off a list of reasons why you will fail. They will speak with such authority that you may start believing them.

But — and pay attention here — it is not their fault. It is yours. You chose the wrong audience. Yeah, yeah, it was an honest mistake. But chances are you have made the same mistake before, perhaps with the same people. You were, shall we say, being dumb.

Don’t be surprised if some of the people you love most are among the most negative. Their very closeness can be problematic. They may not understand or respect your venture. They may fear that you will be unsuccessful — or even successful.

Writing your book will change your life. And if you change, they will be forced to change as well. They may resent your needing time alone or may want to protect you from rejection. They may be too busy or caught up in their own lives to care as deeply as you do about your project, or to care at all. None of these things makes them bad people or bad-for-you people. It just makes them people you reach out to less often (if at all).

The key, then, is to reach out to positive people, brave people — cheerleaders who want the best for you, who expect the best of you.

You don’t have to do it alone

If supporters are in short supply, you can seek them out. If your cheerleaders are abundant, you still may want to recruit those who know the writing life. For more support to get your project off the ground, Fearless Creativity is an indispensable guide. And if you’re ready to finally get your book out of your head and in the world where it was meant to be, consider enrolling in I have a great idea for a book — now what? Gift yourself with three months of instruction, camaraderie, accountability, and the support of those who believe in your dreams.

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