How to Write When … Your Partner Isn’t Supportive
This post is part of the “How to Write When…” series. You might want to take a look at some/all of the previous posts, too:
- How to Write When … You Don’t Feel Inspired
- How to Write When … You Have Kids
- How to Write When … You Keep Getting Interrupted
- How to Write When … Your World is Upside Down
- How to Write When … You Feel Like You’re Not Good Enough
One really tough issue that I’ve seen coming up over and over again, from lots of different writers, is “My partner doesn’t support my writing.”
If you’ve got a spouse or live-in partner who’s unsupportive (or even critical) about you taking the time to write, that can be a huge challenge.
(Similarly, if you’re living at home with your parents and they’re not supportive, that can be really tough too.)
I’ve been really lucky in this: my mum writes, too, and has always encouraged my writing and helped me in lots of practical ways too. My husband is wonderfully supportive and helps carve out time for me to write.
But I know lots of writers don’t have this level of support from their loved ones. Maybe they have a partner who’s simply disinterested – or maybe it’s worse than that. Perhaps their partner criticizes them, makes sly digs at them, or constantly interrupts them during writing sessions.
You can’t magically make your partner interested in your writing. Maybe you’re writing novels in a genre they don’t enjoy, maybe they don’t “get” why you’d want to write a blog, or perhaps they just don’t read much at all.
But there are things you can do to make sure you can get time to write and enjoy it.
#1: Respect Your Own Writing Time
However supportive (or not) your partner is, you need to respect your own writing time.
If you say that you’re going to get up at 7am and write for two hours on Saturday mornings, and you always end up staying in bed playing games on your phone until 9am, then your loved ones are going to think that writing just isn’t a priority for you.
You need to take your writing seriously. Otherwise, your partner (or parents, kids, or housemates) will think it’s just a hobby that you’re not really that interested in.
If you struggle to get started, or if you find that you don’t focus well when you’re writing, try these tips on focusing (and refocusing) during a writing session. For much more in-depth help, check out my Supercharge Your Writing Session ebook.
#2: Make Yourself Unavailable When Writing
Do you constantly get interrupted when you’re writing? This can be a huge nuisance, not only killing your writing flow, but also making you feel like your writing is considered unimportant by your partner.
As much as possible, make yourself unavailable when you’re writing. If you go out to a coffee shop or library, then your family members are unlikely to follow you to interrupt you! (You can also switch off your phone, if you think they’re likely to text or call you.)
If you can’t get out of the house to write, then make yourself as unavailable as you can while at home. Maybe you could write in the garden shed, in a bedroom (with the door shut), with headphones on, or with some other way of making it harder for people to interrupt.
#3: Get Clear About What You Need
As writers, we often want our loved ones to be supportive, without being too sure exactly what that would look like in practice.
How could your partner best support your writing? You might want:
- Support with finding time to write.
- Support with the writing itself (e.g. beta reading).
- Support with the emotional or motivational side of writing.
Getting time to write is often the easiest thing to ask for, especially if you can trade off so that they get something your partner wants too. For instance, you could ask your partner to take care of the kids on their own for a few hours each Saturday so you can write – in return for you having the kids on a Sunday afternoon so they can enjoy one of their hobbies in peace.
Unless your spouse is a writer, editor, or keen reader, then they probably aren’t going to be able to help much with your writing itself. This is a good place to rope in a writing friend or perhaps a family member who does love reading your genre or type of writing.
When it comes to the emotional side of writing, we all need support. Writing can be frustrating, lonely, or just plain hard at times. But your spouse may not be the best person to give you this type of support. If they don’t really “get” writing, then you might find it works best to seek encouragement from a friend or mentor instead.
#4: Make Friends With Other Writers
Do you have any friends who write? If not, then look for a writing group that you could join. This might be a local group or an online one. You could also take a writing class or course, which can be a great way to meet people.
Don’t discount your existing network of friends and acquaintances. You might find that someone you already know, or a friend of a friend, is also writing a blog / working on a novel / trying their hand at poetry.
If you want a great place to meet the writers, try the Aliventures Club. It’s a private group for anyone who’s worked with me or bought anything from me (even if it was years ago), so it’s completely spam-free. Everyone in there is kind and supportive, and we’d love to get to know you and your writing and support you too.
#5: Remember That Your Writing Matters
If you have an unsupportive partner, or if no-one in your family ever says anything positive about your writing plans, then you might start to feel that your writing is unimportant. You may even start to question whether your writing dreams are unrealistic.
But your writing matters. Even if it’s “just” a hobby, it matters: it’s something you enjoy, and it’s perfectly valid to write simply because you love to! Most likely, your writing is something that makes you feel happier and more fulfilled … and that’s important.
Keep carving out time for your writing, and as much as you can, find friends and fellow writers who can encourage and support you on your journey. Your writing is important and meaningful, and you deserve to have time to write.
For help planning ahead writing time into your week, check out Supercharge Your Writing Week. It’s a short guide plus a set of printables designed to help you make more writing time, even when things are busy.
I’m Ali Luke, and I live in Leeds in the UK with my husband and two children.
Aliventures is where I help you master the art, craft and business of writing.
If you're new, welcome! These posts are good ones to start with:
Can You Call Yourself a “Writer” if You’re Not Currently Writing?
The Three Stages of Editing (and Nine Handy Do-it-Yourself Tips)
My contemporary fantasy trilogy is available from Amazon. The books follow on from one another, so read Lycopolis first.
You can buy them all from Amazon, or read them FREE in Kindle Unlimited.
These are such great tips! One thing t to hat helped me with young kids was to set rewards for writing that benefit them. For example, “let mom write for 3 hours this week and on Saturday we’ll go to the park.” Suddenly they were helping me find time to write instead of sabotaging me.
Oh, that’s a great tip, Edie! Mine are used to me writing now (they’re 8 and 6) but when they were smaller, I sometimes used to set a timer so they’d know that when the timer went off, I’d be done writing.
Thank you for sharing this! Sometimes I need this little push.
Thank you for addressing the issue of unsupportive spouses. I feel like I’m swimming against the current all the time. Thanks for the much needed reminder that “it’s perfectly valid to write simply because you love to.”