Get Taken Seriously as a Writer by Your Family and Friends

“Nobody takes me seriously or respects my time.”
This seems to be a common refrain I hear from newer writers. They’ve finally worked up the courage to get serious about writing regularly and some of their closest family and friends won’t respect their time. They get calls during the times they’re writing and attitude if they don’t stop to talk. They hear comments that undermine their newfound confidence.
“You can do that, after all you stay home all day.”
“Oh come on, you’ve got nothing better to do.”
And my favorite. “It’s not like you have a real job.”
So what’s a writer to do?
To begin with, take a deep breath and realize this problem isn’t unique to writers. It happens to everyone who works from home—I should know—my husband and I have shared a home office for the past thirteen years. For some people an office isn’t an office if it isn’t off site. Not logical—but an all too common misconception.
I’ve fought this battle—sometimes more successfully than others—and these are the strategies I’ve come up with. 
  • First, make certain you’re setting the example you want followed. By that I mean keep regular hours. Notice I said regular hours—not normal ones. For years I wrote with young children. That meant writing in the afternoons and after they were in bed. Just because you’re working odd hours doesn’t mean you can’t have a schedule.
  • Second, treat what you’re doing like you’re serious. If you blow off writing for shopping and lunch several times a week your friends and family won’t understand if you don’t stop for them.
  • Third, be consistent. If you’re not accepting calls from your mother-in-law because you’re working, don’t spend the afternoon on the phone with your best friend. Stay focused on your writing. This is even more critical if your time is at a premium.
  • Fourth, recruit a support team. Instead of adversaries, enlist your friends and family to help you reach your writing goals. Communicate those goals, clearly and frequently. Ask for their help to reach them. After all, what mother doesn’t want to help her baby succeed!
  • Fifth, share your victories. Let those that help you share in the joy of goals accomplished and milestones reached.

These five things have helped me immeasurably over the years. But they’re not a cure all. There will still be those who think what you do is fun and not work. Expect that, anticipate it even. Knowing it happens to everyone takes away a little bit of the sting.
So what have you found to help when you struggle with sabotaging friends and family?

Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing blog,The Write Conversation. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She currently has two books available, the best selling eBook, Social Media Marketing for Writersand her latest project, a devotional for those with family members in the military, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle.Married 30 years to her high school sweetheart, Kirk, they have raised three sons.


Social Networking—Take Time to get Your Feet Wet

We live in an exciting time as writers. We have more ways of
interacting with our readers and each other than ever before. In addition to
email, there are blogs to read and comment on, Facebook and Twitter to connect,
not to mention the new options of YouTube and LinkedIn. But this excitement can
also lead to overload and burnout. Here are some tips to help you ease in
without overwhelming valuable writing time.
  • Set Priorities – I recommend you pick
    one or two applications to concentrate on before you move on to others. For
    example, I started with a blog and Facebook about the same time, but waited
    until I was comfortable keeping them current before I added Twitter and
    LinkedIn into my routine.
  • Set a Time Limit – I could spend all
    day moving from emails, to Facebook, to blogs, to Twitter, to . . . well you
    get the idea. I set specific times to do my social networking. There are
    exceptions, but for me to actually write—which is the point, after all—I have
    to stick to a schedule.
  • Realize There’s a Learning Curve – When
    something new comes along—I have to give myself permission to not be an instant
    expert. We hear buzzwords like intuitive and
    user friendly and immediately think
    there’s something wrong with us if we don’t pick it up easily.
  • Don’t Fall for the Hype – I’m guilty of
    being one of those who’s excited about new ways to connect. In the spirit of
    encouragement, I’ll tell those around me, “You’ve got to try  ____________________!” There are lots of cool applications out
    there—but none of them is the right answer for everyone.
  • Accept that Social Networking Makes
    EVERYONE Feel Overwhelmed –
    I don’t care who they are, or who they work
    for—no one can keep up. The business is just changing too quickly. Feeling overwhelmed
    is part of the picture, just accept it and go on.

I love social networking—and I get a lot of business through
it—but even I have to be careful and not let it take over my life. Seth Godin,
one of the most popular bloggers on the Internet recently posted a blog  about ways to keep this monster in check. If he struggles with this issue,
there’s definitely hope for the rest of us.
Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in
the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing
blog, The Write Conversation.
She has two bestselling books, an eBook, Social
Media Marketing for Writers
,
as well as a devotional available in
print and eBook format, Fighting
Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle.

An Organized Schedule Leads to Success

As many of you know, I’ve had a couple of really productive
years in and a lot of you have asked how I accomplished it all. I did it
because I was willing to follow a schedule – it was my way of eating an
elephant one bite at a time. I learned how to break large tasks into smaller
ones. here are some of my suggestions.
It doesn’t matter whether you write as a
calling, a hobby or a business. We all perform better when we have expectations
and a way to judge results. For those of you just starting out, here are some
suggestions. 
  • Set small, measurable goals. A lot of people defeat themselves right here. They get confused about the difference
    between a goal and a dream. A goal is something you have control over. For
    example, my goal is to write five hours a day, five days a week or twenty-five
    hours per week. I generally can control my schedule so this is a reasonable
    goal. I’d also like to be a New York Time’s bestselling author. I can put in
    the hours writing and learning my craft, but becoming a bestseller isn’t
    something I have control over. 
  • Under estimate the time you’ll be able to put in. Yes, you read that right. I tend to be a
    perfectionist and when I fail, I get discouraged and quit. So if I think I can
    post five articles a week on my blog, I commit to three or four so I have room
    to succeed. I do the same thing when I set deadlines. If I have a project due
    on a Thursday, I’ll put it on my schedule as due on Tuesday. Why? Because life
    happens, and I can’t always control the things thrown my way. 
  • Adjust your goal setting to a weekly mode,
    rather than daily.
    Like my goal of writing
    five hours a day, five days a week, I want to leave a day or two to make up any
    time I may have missed. Like this week, our middle son is having hand surgery.
    If I only look at the writing five hours a day, the day he has surgery I’m
    going to fail. But by working a few extra hours each day, I can still make my
    weekly goal.

Along those lines, here
are some attainable, weekly goal setting ideas. 

  • Weekly Word Count Goal. One of the things I’ve found most helpful when
    setting word count goals is to set my goal for the week rather than the day. I
    still have one teenager in and out of the house, so sometimes life interrupts
    life. To combat this, I set a weekly word count goal for my fiction endeavors.
    Then, I break it down into daily totals. If I miss a day’s goal, I can make it
    up later in the week and I don’t wind up feeling like I’ve failed. 
  • Weekly Project Goal. You may normally work on smaller projects, like
    articles or devotions. If that’s the case, try to set a goal of one devotion or
    article a week. 
  • Revolving Weekly Goal. You might want to try something I call a
    revolving weekly goal. This is where you have a different goal every week
    for 3 weeks and then it starts over. The first week you might complete a
    small project. The next week, you look for markets where you can sell it. The
    third week you might spend learning about the craft of writing. Then you begin
    the cycle again.

Whatever method works for you is the BEST method.
Just remember, that no matter how early or how
far along you are on your writing journey we all need to spend time studying
the craft of writing. That can be done through reading books, attending a
seminar or conference, or reading blogs and websites.
All of these are necessary for us as writers to
improve our craft.
So what have you found works best for you? Share
your insights with the rest of us – please!
Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. In keeping up with the leading edge of all things digital Edie has become known as one of the go-to experts on Twitter, Facebook, and social media for writers wanting to learn how to plug in. Her bestselling eBook on this subject, Social Media Marketing for Writersis available on Kindle and Nook.
Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home, is Edie’s latest project. This devotional book for those with family members in the military debuted on Veterans Day, 2011. Married 30 years to her high school sweetheart, Kirk, they have raised three sons.

Put Your Reader to Sleep

Yes, you read the title correctly. Put your reader to sleep

Okay, maybe not completely to sleep, but at least allow them to
dream. What does dreaming have to do with writing? Everything. The dream I’m
referring to is the fictional dream.
If you’ve never heard the term before, don’t worry. I guarantee
you know what I’m talking about. I think author, John Gardner says it
best. 
“What counts in
conventional fiction must be the vividness and continuity of the fictional
dream the words set off in the reader’s mind.”
A fictional dream occurs when the world in the story you’re
reading becomes more real than the physical world around you. We’ve all be
there at one time or another—transported into another time or another place by
an author’s well crafted words.
This experience is one that we try to create for our readers. And
it’s one of the biggest differences between a good book and a great one. So how
do we create this dream world? We do it by paying attention. Notice where you
are right now. Are there sounds? Smells?
Even if you’re not overwhelmed by your setting I bet you’re aware
of it. The same thing is true for our characters. If we’ve written them as
three dimensional people then they should notice and be affected by what’s
around them. However, if we neglect those details, we deny our readers the
chance to be transported. 
Even more important than what we do to put our readers to sleep is
what we DON’T do. I think writers are far more often guilty of waking a
reader up. We, as the author, have an obligation to not jolt our readers out of their fictional dream world. So what are
some things we do that interrupt pleasant dreams?
  • Bad Grammar—I’m not talking about a missed comma or two. I’m
    referring to sentence structure that’s difficult to read, modifiers that
    modify the wrong thing or even complicated punctuation. All of these
    things can cause a reader to stop and ponder what you’re trying to say.
    Once they stop you’ve lost them, they’re awake.
  • Confusing Dialogue—This can include things like long sections of dialogue
    with no speaker tags or beats. If the reader has to go back and figure out
    who’s speaking it means you’ve either not put in enough tags or your
    characters don’t have unique enough voices to be identified. One word of
    caution, overuse of ‘said’ instead of interspersing with speaker beats can
    be just as jarring.
  • Creative Speaker Tags—Anytime you use a speaker tag other than said or maybe asked you
    run the risk of making your reader stop. The word said is so common place in literature that it’s almost
    invisible. The reader skims lightly over it, uninterrupted. If, on the
    other hand, you pull out your thesaurus and try to find other words to use
    in its place you end up with jarring prose that tells the story through
    speaker tags instead of dialogue.
  • Characters who don’t act right—I’m not referring to moral actions. We’ve all read
    stories where a character does something and we find ourselves shaking our
    heads. Know your characters well enough to keep them from acting out of
    character.
  • Overwriting a dialect—I’m not against allowing your character to speak with
    an accent or in a dialect, but be careful how you do it. When the
    character is first introduced you can use a heavier hand with the
    spellings that denote dialect, such as learnin’ instead of learning. But
    after the reader gets to know the character they can hear the character
    speaking in their head and you don’t have to use spelling to convey their
    voice. In fact, if the reader has to work too hard to decipher your intent
    they will never even make it into the fictional dream.
  • Head Hopping—This is when you switch POV (point of view) from one
    character to another without a good reason. The rule of thumb is that each
    scene should have a single POV character and that should be the character
    with the most at stake.

The storyteller who can invite the reader into his world
and make him believe it’s real has captured the essence of what it means to be
a great writer.

Now
it’s your turn. Have you ever read a book where you were jolted out of your
fictional dream? What about one where you were transported to another world by
an amazing author? Share your experiences and we’ll compare notes!

Edie Melson is a freelance
writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. In keeping up with the leading edge of all things digital
Edie has become known as one of the go-to experts on Twitter, Facebook, and
social media for writers wanting to learn how to plug in. Her bestselling eBook
on this subject, Social
Media Marketing for Writers
,
is available on Kindle and Nook.
Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home, is Edie’s latest project. This devotional book for those
with family members in the military debuted on Veterans Day, 2011. Married 30 years to her
high school sweetheart, Kirk, they have raised three sons.