How to Cope with Relatives and Friends Who Dis Your Freelance Writing Life
Some lucky freelance writers have supportive spouses who’re rooting for them all the way. Their friends refer them clients. Their neighbors respect their privacy and leave them alone during work hours.
Unfortunately, the reality for many freelance writers is different.
Instead, those closest to us laugh at what we’re doing.
When Relatives Hate on Your Freelancing
Some of our parents are bitterly disappointed that we’ve chucked the corporate life. Seen from the viewpoint of people who may have spent 30 years at the same company, it seems like madness. They email us job listings and want to take us shopping for suits to wear to interviews.
Friends who’re still tethered to a corporate cubicle may be insanely jealous — and express this by making fun of what you’re doing.
They think we have no ambition, when in fact we may be earning more than our former day-job paycheck. They think we’re sleeping late and watching soaps when we may be booking 18-hour days writing on tight deadlines about complex topics for demanding clients.
Friends who’re still tethered to a corporate cubicle may be insanely jealous — and express this by making fun of what you’re doing. Neighbors see the fact that you’re at home now as their chance to get help moving furniture or talking out their personal problems.
To sum up, they don’t get it. And they’re driving you nuts.
What to Do About the Clueless People
Fortunately, you can become a successful freelance writer despite the efforts of those in your inner circle to tear down what you’re doing. Here’s my list of strategies for keeping your freelance writing on track despite unsupportive friends, relatives, and neighbors:
- Don’t get defensive. Don’t let uninformed comments about your freelance writing career get to you — or at least, if it does bug you, don’t let it show. If naysayers see you are confident about what you’re doing and their negative comments don’t rattle you, they may lay off.
- Keep it quiet. If relatives are not supportive, don’t ever discuss your freelance work with them. Don’t give them an opening to make nasty cracks about your lifestyle. If they ask how it’s going, say, “Great!” End of discussion. Provide no further details.
- Set boundaries. Will you sign for your neighbor’s packages? No. Accept phone calls from your mom in the middle of the day? Voicemail and caller ID were created for this situation. Don’t let pushy people intrude on your priorities.
- Be consistent. Refuse to have your precious work hours wasted by neighbors who don’t understand that you really do work during the day from that home office. Eventually, people will catch on that you are busy during the day. If you help out occasionally, you open the door to more workday interruptions.
- Find an office. My sister has four children, and does freelance work. She finally rented a spare room from a supportive neighbor for a modest fee. Now, she walks a couple blocks down the street with her laptop and ‘goes to work.’ Coworking spaces are booming in part because they solve this dilemma. If all else fails, this may be an option to explore to screen out the timewasters and get your work done.
- Get support. Starting a solo business — which is what freelance writers have — is not easy. It’s important to find a support network of other solopreneurs who know what you’re going through. Share your struggles and triumphs with them, not with unsympathetic relatives and friends.
What do you do about unsupportive friends and relatives? Leave a comment and share your story.