Dear Writer-Friends,

I've been self-publishing since 2011, and I've shared the knowledge I've gained in two books: the Indie Author Survival Guide, Second Edition, and For Love or Money. I'm not an indie rockstar or a breakout success: I'm one of thousands of solidly midlist indie authors making a living with their works. These books are my way of helping my fellow authors discover the freedom of indie publishing. Write on, writer-friends!

S.K. Quinn, Independent Author of Science Fiction

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Indie Author Survival Guide (Third Edition) - Ch 3.7 Emotional Judo: Lack of Support for Your Writing

This is an excerpt from the forth-coming Third Edition of the
Indie Author Survival Guide (Crafting a Self-Publishing Career 1)
Second Edition is available now

The Guide should be read in tandem with
For Love or Money (Crafting a Self-Publishing Career 2)

Join my Facebook Group (For Love or Money) for monthly consult giveaways!

Ch 3.7 Emotional Judo: Lack of Support for Your Writing


Many creative workers (writers, artists, musicians) are blessed with people who enthusiastically support them in their creative life. Some have spouses, parents, and other well-meaning people who either give tepid non-support to their writing (or other art)—through lack of interest or understanding—or actively undermine, disparage, or attack their work.

When writers thank those who have supported them, they mean every word—because the opposite can be devastating.

 Writing As Secret Lover
Sometimes lack of support is really a jealous reaction to the time, energy, passion, heart, and soul you pour into your art. At some level, this jealous reaction is a reasonable response to the time you spend locked away in the fevered grip of your manuscript. The solution can be lots of dialogue about your art, its importance to your well-being, as well as making sure to lavish attention on the jealous lover. This kind of reaction will most often come from someone who is not an artist themselves, because…

Writing As Obsession
…artists understand the obsession. Non-artists do not. I will posit that creative work is fundamentally different than non-creative work. Having done both—and having been a certified work-a-holic my entire life—there is nothing quite as obsession-inducing as creative work. It can be all consuming, and history is rife with people who have been consumed by it. When was the last time you heard of an engineer so taken with his work that it drove him mad or sent him into a great depression or brought on thoughts of suicide? (Tesla's the only obsessive engineer I can think of, and I think his madness was quite separate from his love of electricity.) Creative work is a kind of madness, a living outside of reality that we pursue with equal parts terror and delight. Someone who hasn't experienced it can't understand it… unless they actually do, and then…

Writing As Fulfillment
… they become mean. The person who attacks your work, who tells you to get a real job, who tears you down as a lazy dreamer that will never amount to anything… that person knows exactly what your art is: a fulfillment of your potential as a unique, creative person. It's your reason to be on the planet. You were created to create. The angry, mean person who is attacking you is almost certainly someone who feels the harsh sting of jealousy as you fulfill your creative potential (for more on this, see The War of Art). To be fair, they may not consciously be aware of this jealousy, or that they desire a creative life of their own. Most likely, it's a nameless ache inside, a hole that remains unfilled, and that pain gets funneled into anger when they see someone else who is… whole. Your response to this should be: 1) to see the attack for what it is, which can drain the attacker's slings and arrows of their wounding power, and 2) invite and encourage this unfulfilled person to seek their own creative expression. I have tremendous belief in the power of creative work to transform people. Indeed, it is almost impossible not to be transformed during the act of creation. So gently encourage this detractor to find their own creative work—or simply be the example of a creative life that will continually call to them. Trust me, your existence is hurting them much more than their words can ever hurt you.

What Can I Do?
How can you combat the negative emotional drain that comes from having loved ones who don't support your dreams? First, find people who do support you. Second, if at all possible, be open and honest with your loved ones about the importance of your art to your soul. If that's not possible, use something I call Emotional Judo to minimize the damage to yourself, your loved one, and your relationship.

Emotional Judo

ju·do (the “gentle way”)
A modern martial art; a method of defending oneself or fighting without the use of weapons, based on jujitsu but differing from it in banning dangerous throws and blows.

Judo is “the gentle way” because it’s about deflecting the strike, not striking back. It’s about not taking the hit, not absorbing the blow, but instead turning it aside, so the energy of the attack throws the attacker off balance while minimizing injury to both parties.

(Spoken like I actually know judo. Which I don’t. And with a nod to Verbal Judo by George Thompson.)

Emotional Judo deflects the emotional attack, so that it doesn’t hurt you or the person attacking. If your mom, dad, spouse, cousin, or nosy next door neighbor makes a disparaging comment about publishing, Emotional Judo allows you to deflect the energy of the attack, throwing the attacker off balance while minimizing injury to yourself, them, and your relationship.

Attack: “Are you making any money at this writing thing yet? Does it justify all that time you've spent?”
Emotional Judo: “Absolutely yes! The money is great, but I get so much more out of it than just that. A sense of accomplishment. Satisfaction. It’s amazing how lucky I am to make money at something I love so much.”

Deflect. Disarm. There’s no comeback to that whatsoever. And you’ve just affirmed the reasons why you love what you do.

Attack: “Why don't you get a real job?”
Emotional Judo: “You know, I've never worked so hard in my life, as I have with my writing. It's amazing what having a real passion for your work can do for your motivation.”

Attack: “When are you going to sell/publish that book?”
Emotional Judo: “I absolutely love this book! It took a lot of time writing and revising and getting it just right. It deserves to be published well, so I'm going to take my time to do that right, too.”

Attack: “What kind of writer are you?” (With an undertone expectation that whatever you write will not be as good as something else.)
Emotional Judo: “I'm the kind that writes. I usually write with words. *smile* Right now I'm working on (insert genre of current WiP), but I respect writers in every genre: each one has its own unique challenges."

{Seriously, humor is an awesome Emotional Judo weapon.}

Attack: “Have you published anything I've heard of?”
Emotional Judo: “Probably not. It's really hard for the average person to keep on top of all the awesome books that come out every year. You should see my to-be-read list! It's a mile long, and that's the books I already know about! But I usually find the best books the way most people do: by friends who tell me the latest cool thing they've read.”

You Don't Need Their Support
You may want your family's support; it may hurt not to have it; but you don't need it.

In the end, the only support you truly need is your own: no one can stop you from doing your creative work, and you alone are responsible for seeing through the full expression of it.

~*~

This is an excerpt from the forth-coming Third Edition of the
Indie Author Survival Guide (Crafting a Self-Publishing Career 1)
Second Edition is available now

The Guide should be read in tandem with
For Love or Money (Crafting a Self-Publishing Career 2)

Join my Facebook Group (For Love or Money) for monthly consult giveaways!

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