It isn’t always a lack of motivation that prevents us from accomplishing our goals. I have witnessed too many people give up on a dream because they had no one in their life to offer support and encouragement. Our personal relationships have a profound impact on what we accomplish, as well as what we perceive we can achieve.
Throughout my education, I was fortunate to be surrounded by teachers and friends who supported my efforts and encouraged me to pursue my writing ambitions. Adult friends and acquaintances have been a different experience. Sadly, many people see writing a book as a fanciful task, an unnecessary self-appointed employment. Unfortunately, some of those very same high school friends who were once so supportive are now silent. I’ve found the silence to be the most hurtful.
I should not have been surprised, for as an entrepreneur I’ve encountered the wall of silence before. While business start-ups are no less personal, the endeavor to write is the most personal of all. I wasn’t prepared to hear crickets from friends who I have known and supported throughout different stages in their lives. I believe in being a cheerleader for my friends, and I expect the same in return.
I can only guess why I haven’t heard squeals of joy from the people who have chosen to be silent. I know some people are shocked that my first book is in the romance genre, and since they don’t read that genre, they are at a loss for words. Some people are very indifferent to the success of others, and then there are those who feel they do not need to expend valuable energy on another person.
It is no easy task to write a book. It requires commitment, sacrifice, and persistent effort. Writers who finish a book do so because they are forced to continue; they are driven to scratch the compelling itch. Many people do not feel this passion for their work every day. People go to work and do what is required of them as they count down the minutes until they can return home or resume the activities that give them pleasure. Writers, often feeling as though they are having too much fun, enjoy the work they are passionate about completing.
As creative writers, we must learn to destroy the inner voice of defeat and ignore the critical naysayers that surround us. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not encouraging you to surround yourself with “yes” robots who tell you everything you produce is amazing. Everyone needs helpful critical feedback! However, we don’t need to listen to the voices that predict failure even before we’ve attempted to succeed. Whether they are scared we’ll be successful and leave them behind, or they are attempting to protect us from failure or criticism, their reasons are their own, and we must learn to ignore them.
I’ve worked in animal rescue my entire adult life. Some people have horrific hobbies that center around abuse, torture, neglect, and death. If someone tells me they are doing anything that doesn’t involve the maiming, torturing, or killing of another living being, I take it as my personal duty to throw a hand on their back in praise and encourage them to go for it. It may sound silly, but it truly can make all the difference in someone’s world. We cannot afford to be stingy with loving support.
It takes nothing to give another person a supportive nod and encourage them toward their dreams. If there is a cost, in the form of a stamp or a phone call, it is minimal, but for most, there is no cost. Shouldn’t everyone be encouraged to do more, be more, and achieve greater things?
If we cannot find the encouragement we need within our circle of family and friends, we must go in search of new people who will be supportive of our creative efforts. Seek out others who not only share your excitement, but are staunchly standing on your side of the bleachers cheering you on. These like-minded individuals will have a keen understanding of what you are going through, and they are more likely to give you the type of support you need. Cherish these positive people, and surround yourself with them. Pay the kindness forward, as someone else is in need of the encouragement you crave.
“You need so much energy and encouragement to write that if someone says something negative, some of that energy goes.”
-Joyce Carol Oates