The Making of a Novel: What Support Means to a Writer

11/22/2010 05:57 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I was on a roll over the weekend. I wrote and wrote and wrote, and sorted through notes and books, and integrated ideas into my text, and basically couldn't keep my hands off my story. It's the best kind of obsession. My children were gone this weekend, and so it was just me and my husband. After 21 years of marriage, he can recognize when a story has taken over my body and soul, and here's the amazing thing: he knows how to respond to it, which is to say that he urged me to keep at it.

What does this kind of support look like? He offered to do the dishes so I could keep writing. He told me he'd take care of this chore and that errand so that I could keep writing. Whenever I emerged from my story, he would say, "Still going well?" And I would tell him precisely how it was going well and he would listen and nod, and say, "Sounds great."

What does this kind of support feel like? Peace. It feels like being at peace in myself and in the world.

I keep a quote near my desk by Pixar's Chief Creative Offier, John Lasseter. Lasseter says that success doesn't just breed success -- it breeds autonomy, which in turn nurtures creativity. I love that quote, because for a writer (or any kind of artist, I imagine), the goal isn't just success. The goal is to be able to keep doing this, to keep being creative, to keep being a writer.

And you know what else nurtures creativity? The support of someone who believes in what you're doing. If you don't have such a person in your life, I suggest you make it a priority to find one. They don't have to live with you, or be married to you, or even love you. And they don't have to be that supportive every day (because let me tell you, I do my fair share of dishes and errands and chores). But there's nothing like knowing that someone else believes in what you're doing. It makes you feel like that glimmer of hope that burns bright inside isn't just an illusion.