Just Effing Ask Julie Gray: My Family Doesn’t Support My Writing

Script consultant Julie Gray is a veteran story analyst of some of the biggest production companies in Hollywood. The author of Just Effing Entertain Me: A Screenwriter’s Atlas, Julie has taught story at Warner Bros. Studios, The Great American PitchFest and Oxford University. Contact Julie here.

Dear Julie,

It seems I have to fight for my writing time. My family thinks I am crazy and I am about ready to give up. What do you suggest?

-Frustrated in Ann Arbor

Dear Frustrated:

If I had a penny for every woman writer who said to me that they feel that their husband or family was not always supportive and that they have to struggle to find the time and more than, that the respect for their pursuits – well, I’d be rich. I hear it a lot. Too much.

angry familyIt’s amazing to me – amazing – that women still have to apologize for our passions or rationalize them and say we’ll earn money from them or in some way make it okay that we want to – god forbid – write. All we really need, as Virginia Woolf once famously said, is money and a room of our own in order to write. We do not need people telling us that by writing, we are ignoring or not loving our families or taking care of our obligations. It simply isn’t true.

You CAN write, you can follow your passion and you need never apologize for wanting to. What lies in the balance of finding the time to write and the support to go with it is not connected to what you earn or how famous you might get. What lies in the balance is your very heart and soul.

And don’t forget, if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

It’s worth working this out.

Talk to your family and find a way for them to really get that being a writer is part of who you are, at your very essence. Work out a routine or schedule so that you get the quiet, guilt free time you need to pursue your passion.

If you talk it through lovingly, I am sure your family will understand that the wife and mom they love is a whole human being, with other pursuits and passions. You will be happier and you will be modeling for your kids that following your passion is part of living a good life!

It’s worth fighting for your right to write. Please don’t give up. We need to hear your voice – we need more women to write and to succeed in Hollywood. Many women before you have fought for their time and their space to write. You can do it too.

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One thought on “Just Effing Ask Julie Gray: My Family Doesn’t Support My Writing

  1. Leona Heraty

    Thanks for the supportive article for us women writers, Julie. 🙂

    I agree that we mustn’t feel guilty for needing the time to write, as it’s our soul work and expressing our creativity helps us become who we are meant to be.

    I would also add that the writer who wrote in from Ann Arbor might want to consider re-evaluating the quality of her relationship with her husband or significant other. Just as (more than likely) she is fully supporting her husband’s career, he should be fully supporting her writing goals at the same time, and even encouraging her to write everyday! If this is not the case, I’m wondering if this is truly an equitable partnership, and if not, why not? Just my two cents worth. 🙂

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