Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How to Stay Married as a Writer

This one is in honor of Valentine's Day.

Your spouse can be your hobby’s biggest supporter or detractor--you can influence which. Realize that writers can obsess over their projects. When you're in the zone, you stay up late, ignoring the world while you type one last page. Is your wife complaining she's a computer widow? Do you have fights about your writing time? You need to be creative but she's angry. I'm not an expert, but I've been married seventeen years and there are a few ground rules that might help.
1. Don’t quit your day job. In any genre, you can probably count the number of people on one hand who make a living by writing it. Write because you enjoy the hobby, not because it's the lottery.
2. Agree on boundaries with your spouse. Let her know writing isn't just a phase and it's not going to go away. However, you can agree on limits. Every couple is different and everything is negotiable, but here are some examples:
+ I can type when the kids are at school or in bed.
+ If she watches the kids so I can type on Saturday, I watch them so she can sew Sunday.
+ No computer time with a newborn. They’re only young once.
3. Find out what her passions are and support them. In the movie Phenomenon, they refer to this as "buying her chairs."
4. Pay attention. They call it that because it costs something. If she's upset about something (silent or out loud), ask and listen. Repeat what you heard back to her.
5. Be present. When she's home, be in the same room with her, even if you have to get a laptop. Don’t turn your back. If she asks you a question, put the keyboard down. If you're on a date, don't look at your smart phone.
6. Find reading-related activities to share. We read YA fantasy, Nora Roberts mysteries, and Sue Grafton to each other in the car. My wife has offered to make one of my books into a podio recording with me.
7. Let her know how much you value her opinions and rely on her. Let her be the first reader and first to see sample covers. Mention her in the dedication!
8. When you hit a milestone -- celebrate! When you finish a novel, the hundredth sale on a new book, when you get a 5-star review. Take a moment together away from the computer.
9. Consideration. Learn to write notes by the light of alarm clock numbers. When you get up at one AM with a brainstorm, don't wake her up.
10. Use your writing powers to send her romantic notes from time to time. Hallmark makes nice packs of miniature blank cards, perfect for lunch bags and pillows.

1 comment: