One Simple Solution To The Problem Of Earning A Living As A Writer

It’s tough out there for people trying to earn a living as a writer. I know. There have been days I wanted to give up, say fuck it all, sell a kidney, live in a van in the wilds of Scotland.

But consider this kidney-preserving alternative; asking your family and friends for help.

The benefits of asking are enormous. Even the lukewarm response to my first ‘ask’ revealed useful intel, although, at the time, I felt dejected.

My opening salvo had been, “please subscribe to my newsletter”, and “read it when you have time”, and then, “let me know what you think. No hurry”. In wanting to make sure I didn’t overburden my friends and family, I had failed to share anything real they could connect with, added to which, I was much too vague about what I wanted from them.

Your family don’t need to fund your current writing project, and they probably won’t, but they might be willing to invest time reading and later telling their friends about your story/article/essay. Sometimes out of the milieu, a trusted reader will emerge, someone whose opinion you respect, and if that happens, count yourself lucky.

Mostly, you get cheerleaders, as I did, people who think of you as a writer, validation, and who, when the time comes, you can count on to buy the book, read your article or subscribe to your newsletter.

I’ve heard this advice; don’t talk about what you’re working on or even that you are working on anything at all, to do so is to open yourself up to the naysayers. Fine, but for me, opening up is what allowed people in.

So what went wrong with my first ask? Once I’d acknowledged my family and friends did actually like me, I was forced to look elsewhere for reasons why I’d failed to get much of a response. 

I realised they had nothing to connect with, that the emotion just wasn’t there. They needed to understand my reason why, and to feel that clearly expressed in what I was asking of them.

It’s tough out there for the friends and family of writers too, I know, so don’t tell them they’re helping wrong, let them know why their support with this thing you love makes a difference. Make it easy for them, and if they choose not to read your writing, that’s ok too.

FYI family, I still want to live in a van in the wilds of Scotland, at least for a while.