Last night, on Twitter, I saw a post where a writer was dismayed about a friend's opinion on some stories the writer had sent the friend. The friend basically told the writer that the stories were crap and that the writer should give up on writing.
I'll be frank. The friend's comments pissed me off. I responded to the tweet, encouraging the writer to keep at it (as did many others in the writing community).
If you've shared the dream of becoming a writer with others, I'd bet bet more than a few bucks you've heard at least one of the following:
There's no money in it.
When are you going to get serious about things?
Are you still writing that stuff? (This is usually directed at genre writers)
Very few people make it as writers.
You need to focus on something different.
You can't write until you have more life experience (I heard this one as a young writer).
You need to pick a more stable career.
Often, these comments come from "well-meaning" friends and family who "are just being real." In reality, these comments often cut, chipping away at a writer's confidence and making them question themselves.
I firmly believe you should surround yourself with people who are supportive and encouraging of your goals. This doesn't mean having people around to pump up your ego or shower you with nothing but effusive praise. Rather, people who will cheer you on and celebrate your achievements. People who will recognize that a dream or goal is important to you.
Not people who will take a dump on your dreams.
I would have simple advice for dealing anyone who admonishes or belittles your dreams. If someone makes negative comments about your writing goals, tell them how important it is to you. If they persist, I suggest evaluating if you want to have a relationship with that person. Or at the very least, if you want to share your aspirations with them. A well placed "fuck off" can work wonders, as well. Use at your own discretion.
You don't need anyone's permission to write. It's your life. Your dreams. Not theirs.