Guest Post: The Buddy System

About five months ago, I agreed to edit a short story for a client in California. Her story was a joy to read, and she was a pleasure to work with. Unlike most clients, she and I hit it off on a number of levels, and before I knew it, we were chatting daily over instant messenger.

I’m also part of a Mom-Geek-Writer group on Facebook (don’t judge). I’ve befriended a couple of the women in that group, and we talk regularly as well.

We talk about everything: Life, relationships, our kids, our jobs, the state of the world. But it always circles back to writing. The art. The craft. The hard work and heavy lifting. The self-scrutiny. Our triumphs. Those facepalm moments we wish we had to do over.

Last weekend, as I worked on writing my current chapter, and one of my buddies lamented over editing her recently-finished novel, I realized: Neither of us would have come as far as we have in the short time that we did without each other.

And that’s when it struck me: Writing is better with a buddy.

Buddies Provide Encouragement

We think of writing as a solitary act. We sit in a room like a hermit in his cave, tapping away at a keyboard. And in some aspect of reality, that’s still the case.

But when you reach out and talk to others who understand the act of writing, you find that you’re not alone in your struggles. At one point, one of my buddies asked me, “Did you finish the chapter last night?” In truth, I had not. I’d stalled out. She encouraged me to keep at it. I did. Now we have daily check-ins that are constant reminders that someone out there cares. We value each other’s writing as much as we value our own.

Buddies Challenge Us To Excel

I’ve been writing for twenty-five years. I’ve only given my writing its due in the last year (another topic entirely). But whether I’m focused on writing-as-a-hobby or writing-to-feed-my-family, I’ve always pushed myself in terms of grammar and style.

When a writing buddy commented that she found X-number of occurrences of the word “was” in her manuscript, it prompted me to search my current work in progress. In 22 pages, I have 64 occurrences of was.

Insert passive groan here.

It became a challenge: Write without using was. My buddy and I discussed proper use of passive-voice words. We agreed that in dialogue, the word was is probably inevitable. Otherwise, your characters come off sounding like pretentious snobs. Other than dialogue, there’s almost never any reason to use this horribly lazy word.

And so I wrote. And I’d share. And she’d point out where I had gotten ahead of myself, lazed out, and dropped the W-bomb.

I put down about 8,000 words after our discussion, and then re-read it last night. It surprised me how strong and tight my first draft had become.

Buddies Get The Joke

My husband is my best friend in the universe. I also have a close group of friends nearby. We share many similar interests, but none of them write. When I tell them that my main character woke me up at 3 AM and wouldn’t let me sleep, they look at me like I should probably be committed.

A writing buddy understands.

Writers are an odd lot. We don’t view life through a typical lens. We see plot bunnies scurrying before us, and we chase them down. We daydream out windows and reply off the cuff in ways that make people wonder.

Having writing buddies who not only understand your odd tangents, but continue them and build upon them, is refreshing and energizing.

I saw a bottle of glitter vodka in the store, so I snapped a picture and texted it to a writing buddy with the caption, “Looks like something your main character would drink.” She agreed completely. My buddies and I have exchanged stealth pictures of strangers and we’ve written little stories about them over instant message. We laugh at our own bad grammar when it slips into our manuscripts. We celebrate together when our marketing pages gain followers. No one but another writer truly gets these moments.

Find Your Buddy Today

Finding writing buddies who match your style, interests and genre can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.

  • Go to writer’s groups: When you read your work out loud to others, you’ll find the other writers with whom you click.
  • Join online groups: There’s a Facebook group for just about everything now. Sometimes they make you want to run for the hills, but occasionally one of them sticks.
  • Read and comment on blogs: I have writing buddies who I’d never had “met” unless I actively followed and commented on their blogs.

When you find people with whom you click, stay in touch. Reach out to them when you’re stuck. Share your works with each other. Celebrate each other’s accomplishments. Encourage, enjoy and laugh. Pull each other from your respective writing caves, and find mutual joy in the process of writing.

Shanan Winters

Interpreter of Inspiration

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Guest Post: Writer Interrupted

Hey guys, John here. This is the first guest post of 2015 written by the always great John Callaghan. This was not a topic I chose or approved. I let him decide what to write and that’s what he did. The message he delivers in just a few hundred words should be known by every writer at all times. Now let’s welcome him with a nice round of applause. It’s all yours, Mr. Callaghan.


Writer Interrupted

From the time I was a child, I wanted to write. Not necessarily as a profession but merely as a hobby. Putting my thoughts on paper and creating something from nothing was thrilling. I wrote horror stories in which someone always ended up with a bloody stump. I wrote essays of sorts. And I wrote poetry.

In grade eight I entered a poem in a contest held every year by the Legion, a non-profit organization that provides support for military veterans in Canada. I worked hard on that poem. I wrote of loss and fear and memory—not a great poem but good for someone my age. And I won my region. I was going to get the opportunity to go to the Legion in Pembroke and read my poem for the veterans. It was my first tangible accomplishment as a writer and I was elated.

The day after I learned I had won, I went to school and in breathless excitement told some of my friends my good news.

“Hey guys, I won the Legion poetry contest,” I said, and then waited for a “way to go” or “that’s great” or even a “good for you.”

But instead what I got was: “Writing is for faggots. It’s gay.”

The boy who said this was a red-headed monster and he said it with such surety, such conviction (and he was the leader of our group), that I believed him. My world imploded, and rather than be upset about what he said, I was angry at myself, ashamed, for not knowing what everyone else so obviously knew: Writing was for the “Other,” misfits, outsiders. And I wanted to fit in—I was desperate to fit in.

I put my pen down that day and didn’t pick it up again for many, many years.

If I could go back in time and talk to that version of myself, I’d tell that boy, “You have to keep writing. No matter what. That red-headed monster is doomed to a life of misery. The world is so big. And he is so small, just a punchline in the joke of life.” I’d tell my younger self to laugh about it, or punch Monsterboy in the face, or just stare at him until he becomes uncomfortable and then stare a little more.

This experience wasn’t the only reason I stopped writing, but it was a contributing factor. I am careful, however, not to dwell on regret and live in that dangerous state of being where I think about wasted opportunity, wasted time. That is a dead-end road. But I do wonder from time to time what could have been if I had not been a writer interrupted.

John Callaghan

Get Off My Lawn

Want to Guest Post on Write me a Book, John?

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Photo Credit

The Best of 2014 will be cut short by one day. Instead, I’ve decided to ask for guest bloggers for only the second time ever! Isn’t that exciting? I think so. There’s a reason I’ve only had one guest post ever. I’m very serious and particular about the content on my blog. Sure I write about random topics a couple times every month, but I’d say more than 90 percent of my posts have been about something related to writing or books.

So, the first thing that I want to tell you all is that I’m willing to take a little gamble here. I’m not going to ask for what you might want to post about. Yes it needs to go with the overall theme of my blog, but that’s the only requirement! Well, it can’t be any original work. Cause you posting a poem or an excerpt from your WIP is not something that I’m interested in.

You don’t have to tell me the topic. And you don’t have to be a regular commenter or reader of my blog. All you have to do is tell me that you want to post on here and then write something and send it to me. And since I’ve written about so many topics, I’m okay if it’s something I’ve already written about because your opinion and viewpoint is not the same as mine.

So, do you want to guest post on my blog? All you have to do is say so in the comments. Who knows, this could become a monthly thing if I get multiple responses. And if you’re wondering, my blog currently has 2587 total followers. 2092 of those are on WordPress. I’m aiming for posting any guest post on or around January 2. So I’d say get something written and get it to me ASAP.

PS: Just because I get something doesn’t mean I’ll post it.

An Open Invitation

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Photo Credit: Page Lines

I know many of you are new around these parts, but I have my select few who have been here with me for some time now. I’d like to offer all of you an opportunity to do something that I’ve never once offered before during my 11 months of blogging. A guest post!

I’ve never been asked by another blogger to guest post on their blog and it makes me sad. Because I think my posts are pretty much the best damn thing the internet has to offer. Only kidding. Kinda. Anyway, I have a lot of blogs I follow and bloggers who follow me who write REALLY great posts. I’m talking those blogs that you refuse to miss a post. I have quite a few of those and I’m wondering if perhaps some of these might like to write a guest post for my wonderful little blog here.

So, first let me talk about what I will and will not be looking for. As you can see, whether you’re a first time reader or a longtime follower of mine, this blog is about books. Writing them. Reading them. Publishing them. News related to them. Everything that can be said about books will likely find its place in one of my posts at some point. So obviously if you blog about fashion or food or travel then you’re likely not someone I would seriously consider for my first ever guest post. I apologize. So pretty much anything that has something to do with books is fair game EXCEPT book reviews or those “this is what I’ve read/ will be reading” posts or any of your own writing such as poems or excerpts from your current WIP. Those leave little room for engagement from the reader.

Also, you can’t propose writing a post about something I’ve already written about. Unless, in my opinion, it’s different enough to allow for another post to be written. I’ve written about A LOT when it comes to books so you may want to scroll through my Archives or use that little search bar over to the right to make sure your idea isn’t something I’ve written about.

Lastly, if you’re wondering if certain bloggers will receive preferential treatment over others, the answer is yes. I have bloggers who interact with me on just about every post I write. So obviously if you follow my blog the same minute you write a comment on this post and I’m comparing you to someone who has been here for months, well…sorry. Not really. There are a few bloggers I’d love to have write a guest post on here, but I’m first going to see who all is interested before I go asking around.

I reserve the right to refuse to publish or alter the post for any reason I see fit. The post will be published here either six days or two weeks from today. I’ll notify the blogger I’ve chosen to write the post within 24 hours of the initial publishing of this post on 5/1.

So, if you might be interested in writing a guest post on here then leave a comment! Or if you’d rather not have someone steal your idea, you can tweet me here. Or if you’re not on Twitter and don’t want your idea to be stolen by some sneaky blogger then you can comment with your email and I’ll promptly shoot you an email demanding your idea. My email is my name.

So you know your potential reach, this blog currently has just over 800 WordPress followers. You can expect maybe 50-100 more by the time your post goes live.