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.