Behind every good writer…

I’ve been a lucky writer. I’ve enjoyed a large amount of support from friends and family. In fact, I have never known anyone who was not supportive of my writing.  Even family and acquaintances who don’t read my particular style, or don’t understand or appreciate some of the things I have written are supportive of my life as a writer.

It is an interesting thing. Maybe there are critical people out there, and I’m just not aware of them. But there is a fine line when it comes to a writer’s confidence. Support is great. We need it. We especially need support of our writing time. Anyone can be supportive when it doesn’t affect them. But writing is a solitary business, and it is a lot harder to be supportive when it is affecting your time with a loved one.

However, in my experience, people can be too supportive. That sounds odd, maybe even impossible, but there is a definite fine line. Writers are psychologically fragile. At some point, support, though well-meaning, can place a lot of pressure upon the writer.

My ex-wife used to encourage me to write a best-seller so that we could get a big house. She meant well. It was her way of being supportive, but in fact, that sort of support can be damaging. A writer can take that a couple of different ways. First, you can put a whole lot of pressure upon yourself, making rejections unreasonably painful. Second, it can make the writer feel like you don’t really understand what they are going through.

Obviously, we would all like to write best-sellers. We would love to have mansions paid for by the page. But there are maybe a dozen writers in the world who make that sort of living off their writing. There are over a dozen writers just in my writers group. You can do the math. You would be better off playing the lottery.

It’s hard for a writer to get someone to understand that the most they can really hope for is to make a living off writing, even a meager one. It’s hard for people who see books selling at grocery stores for 12.99 to understand that for a majority of us, the most we can hope for is to see our names on a book that will probably never make much money.

That’s why it is important for writers to socialize with other writers. That’s how this whole thing started. A majority of the people who write for this website were in a writers group together through National Novel Writing Month. We hang out together a couple times a month. We write together. We understand this weird profession and what each member goes through for it.

Some of us, such as myself and a couple of other writers here, have extremely supportive writers as significant others. That is a double whammy, a supportive family member who also understands the toils of being a writer. It worked for Stephen and Tabitha King. Tabitha has always been Stephen’s number one “constant reader.”

Writers need each other, but we need our friends and family, as well. We need significant others and children who will give us time to pursue this seemingly-futile dream. We need them to prop up our confidence when we lack it, and slap down our egos when they get too big. The true irony about writing, a passion that only you can do, is that you need other people to be successful.

In short, your writer needs you. Thank you for being there for him/her.

Jack Campbell, Jr. is a dark fiction writer in Lawrence, KS. His writing has appeared in various venues including Twenty 3 Magazine, Danse Macabre, and Insomnia Press. He writes about reading, writing, and life on his blog at


  • Kevin Wohler says:

    Jack, I think you are underestimating the number of writers in the world who are making big money off their writing. I know times are hard for writers, especially those on the mid-list, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

    The Forbes list for 2012 has the 15 top earners, and they’re all in the tens of millions. James Patterson topped the list with $93 million. If I could make $280,000 a year writing, I’d have enough for the downpayment on the mansion of my dreams. And that’s about one-tenth what Stephen King made last year.

    I know not every writer can make big money, but it’s not an impossible dream. Keep writing.

  • I think that is a dollar for every book Patterson published last year.

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