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Your Friends & Family Are Wrong

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Time for a little tough love.

To all those writers who say:

  • My family has encouraged me to write this story
  • I had this idea while talking with friends, and they thought it was brilliant
  • My [insert close friend or family member name here] absolutely love my stories
  • I read my work to my students, and they think I should get it published

You need to ignore what these people are telling you.

You need to write because you can't do anything else. Because you would suffer if you didn't.

Your motivation to write has to come from within.

Don't write (only) because you were given validation or permission by someone close to you. What you really need (require) is your own inner conviction.


When I was a kid, my mother wrote a middle-grade fantasy novel. I read it many times. I absolutely loved it.

I remember her blue-gray electric typewriter that weighed a million pounds sitting on the dining room table. It had a very loud mechanical hum and the table vibrated and shook during periods of vigorous typing.

My mom consulted Writer's Market at the town library and sent her manuscript to dozens of publishers. She received all rejections, though some were encouraging and personalized. Eventually the typewriter was packed away in a closet.

Flash forward 20 years. The old manuscript is dusted off, brought into Microsoft Word, tweaked, and … everyone knows what's next.

I read my mother's book once again, not as a young daughter, but as a publishing professional who gives advice to writers.

I bet you're all wishing you had a family member in publishing to help you out, right?

It can be a curse rather than a blessing.

Family members are supposed to encourage and support you—act as cheerleaders during the long periods of rejecton.

There are some unusual cases where your family/friends can offer critical feedback as insightful and careful readers, and you can make excellent use of it.

But for most writers, you must not and cannot rely on your family and friends to give you this feedback, even if they are your target audience. And you especially can't rely on them to tell you that your work deserves publication (or to give you ANY kind of business-of-publishing advice).

Unless, of course, your daughter works in publishing and has a job that specializes in giving advice to writers.

Mom's story read very differently to me as a grown-up. I gave her feedback on how to revise it for today's market.

The manuscript is back in the proverbial closet.

But in the years to come, I know I will treasure and cherish her work more than any publisher could.

Photo credit: Pliable Trade

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