You want to encourage a writer, but you’re afraid you’ll sound insincere and insult them instead.
It’s easier for writers to encourage other writers because we know the struggle first hand.
But what if you’re not a writer?
What if you don’t have a creative bone in your body?
You want to help and encourage your writer friend/family member but don’t know how.
You’re not alone.
Us creative types need a lot of encouragement and hearing the right kind gives us a real boost.
Who it comes from and what kind makes a very big difference.
In fact, it can make or break us. No pressure!
So what to do when you have no clue?
Here are five special ways you can encourage a writer and any creative people you know.
Guaranteed to win some brownie points!
First let’s look at what encouragement is.
The dictionary defines it as ‘The action of giving someone support, confidence or hope.’
Let’s break it down a bit further.
Support – To bear all or part of the weight of; to hold up. It also means to give assistance to.
Supporting a writer means different things to different writers. For some, it means allowing them time to write by taking over some of their daily chores. Financial support is a big one, especially in a relationship. Depending on the type of writing, research assistance will save a lot of time. Mostly, supporting a writer means helping them in any way they need it, especially emotionally.
Confidence – ‘The feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something.’
This is something that all writers struggle with, even the big guns and best sellers. We always doubt our ability to write well and to succeed in a very competitive market. Our confidence level changes constantly. It’s up when we’ve finished a piece and are happy with it. It’s down when we haven’t written anything or hate what we’ve written. It’s a real roller-coaster which is why we need to be reminded that we have talent and can succeed as long as we keep trying.
Hope – ‘A feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.’
When we write, it’s with the expectation that it is good and that the reader enjoys it. Nothing can make us feel good about being a writer more than that. Mostly. Earning a living helps too. Without hope of success, we’ve already lost. Losing hope is easy. It’s easy not to write. So why do we hope so much that we’re doing a good job and we’ll be successful? As with any creative endeavor, we love doing it. Even if no one reads it, we don’t regret writing. Hoping for validation, that our hard work and sacrifices have all been worth it, is also what keeps us going.
How to encourage a writer.
There are five easy ways you can encourage a writer that won’t break the bank, cause scowls or end a relationship.
There’s nothing worse than hearing someone say things like ‘Good job’ but they don’t really mean it or have any clue what they’re complimenting you on. We don’t expect everyone to understand, but we do appreciate sincere encouragement.
For example; ‘It’s really great to see how much you love to write.’ Or ‘I’m impressed how hard you work on your writing.’ Or ‘I know how much you love to write. Keep at it. Don’t give up.’
Ask them about it.
The absolute best way to know how to encourage a writer is to ask them how they prefer to be encouraged. It may seem silly but being direct makes a big difference. The writer will appreciate your willingness to help and understand you don’t know as much as they do. They will be happy to tell you.
For instance, if you ask them how they want to be encouraged they may say something like ‘Thanks for asking. I’d really love it if you could ask me about my work.’ Or ‘I need help finding time to write. Could you watch the kids for an hour or two on Sat?’ Or ‘It helps when I’m reminded that I can do it and not to give up.’
Offer your help.
Writers need time and focus to write well. Any way you can help them achieve that is welcome. Picking the kids up from school, making dinner, making a quiet space, doing a few extra chores, and even offering some feedback are just a few ways you can help. But be careful what you offer- they might just ask you to do it and more!
Writers read and re-read our own work so much that we need fresh eyes to go over it and see if it’s any good. Caution- only offer to give feedback if you like the genre or type of writing, and only if you know at least a bit about writing. As I have learnt, getting feedback from the wrong people can be troublesome and make writers feel even worse. Even if you can review one aspect of their work that they’re having trouble with, it will be helpful.
When it gets tough, and it usually is, no matter how much or how little you know about writing, it’s important to have a good ear and just listen. You don’t have to offer any solutions or give advice, just listen. Listen to their frustrations, their trouble chapters, characters and/or structure. Say things like ‘I can see how hard this is for you.’ And ‘Yes, the first chapter does sound difficult.’ Re-iterate what they’re saying. This tells them that you are listening closely. Sometimes they really don’t need help. Sometimes they just need to vent their frustrations and let it all out. It’s usually enough to help them get out of the rut they’re in and keep going.
Encouraging writers doesn’t have to be hard. I hope this blog has made it easier for you.
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