Earlier today I saw a writer posting about how someone she cohabitates with has decided that she doesn’t really work. Well no, not really. I mean writing, editing, blogging, social networking, texting, and sending emails to people isn’t work. That’s just fucking off. Right?
Sadly, she’s not the first writer I’ve met who has been told “Wow, you’re really lazy” by a friend, spouse, or family member. Even I have had the misfortune of someone tell me, “You’re so lazy! You haven’t moved from the couch all day!” I won’t name names.
I’ve also had the issue where people I know decided my writing days were “free” (because I don’t really work), so I could spend all my time doing things for them, and I finally had to put my foot down about this. I’ve probably even blogged about this issue before because it’s a rather rampant misconception people have about anyone who works from home.
Not to mention, work isn’t supposed to be fun or involve things other people do for leisure. Allegedly.
It’s not all fun and games, of course. There are days my inbox drives me batty, or I feel so beat up and downtrodden that I feel having a full-time, tedious day job would be easier. I finally got my “You’re SO lazy” person off my ass when I explained that me sitting on the couch in my PJs was paying the bills and putting food in our stomachs. That made a world of difference. But what if your writing isn’t doing that? What then? How do you fend off the snarky comments or requests to do things for others during your work time?
So here’s the thing – if you ever want your writing career to become more than just a hobby and you hope to make it a career, your writing time, and even your social media/marketing time, has to exist. This often means that other things on your to-do list suffer. So maybe you’re not the perfect 50’s housewife and your house is never spotless. Or maybe you’re not the stereotypical doting husband who provides for the family. Maybe you do spend your day in your pajamas and wait to shower until after six PM. Perhaps you do spend more time in front of the computer than you do walking the dog. Here’s the thing – you need to draw the line in the sand with people HERE and NOW. It’s pretty simple. Either they support you or they don’t.
Here are a few suggestions to get these annoying, nitwit naysayers off your back:
- Explain to your loved ones that you understand that they think you’re lazy, but explain to them again that what you’re doing is IMPORTANT to you. Even if you’re only doing it a few hours a day and it prevents you from making dinner.
- Explain that yes, maybe it looks like you’re not doing anything, but typing is a thing. So is thinking. So is posting promotional crap to your social media, as is connecting with your readers whether that takes the form of blogging, social networking, or email. My favorite saying for this, “If the hands are moving and I’m staring at the screen, I’m working!”
- Let the naysayers know that if they can’t support you, then either there needs to be a compromise or a difficult choice will have to be made. Because honestly – they all knew you were a writer going in, right? If not, well this is where you have to decide if a compromise can be made. If not, you may just have to make a choice between the writing or the relationship.
- If they think you’re not pulling your weight around the house (which is usually the crux of these types of arguments) explain that your priorities are different. For example – my priority is not, never has been, and never will be to keep my house spotless and everyone who knows me knew that going in. If your loved one didn’t know this from the get go – find out what they expect, what you expect, and if there can be a compromise. I mean, seriously? Most writers are lousy housekeepers. We’re not hoarders, necessarily, but we do often let the clutter go a bit longer than most. My husband married me knowing I was rather haphazard in the cleaning department. I sometimes have to remind him how my house looked BEFORE we moved in together. Whatever made him think he could change me into Suzie Homemaker still sometimes rears its head now and again, but it’s no longer as big an argument these days.
- If you’ve agreed to a compromise, make sure you can keep up your end of the bargain, and work hard to keep it. After all, foregoing important things in favor of the computer and writing time is not a great way to bring the family to your side. Working to balance home and family with work and writing can be delicate. On that same token, people expecting you to do nothing but cleaning and cooking the entire time you’re home is unrealistic and unfair as well.
Share your stories and suggestions in the comments below! Your thoughts on this could help save a relationship!