Everyone says that writers are loners because it’s true. By its nature, writing is a solitary vocation. While you can brainstorm with others, it’s one pair of hands that hit the keyboard, put pen to paper, or hit record. Writers also generally fly solo, because we are by nature a bit paranoid.
Then why have a writing buddy or buddies? This is a personal decision, but I can share my POV with you and maybe you’ll be like me and decide to jump on the proverbial trampoline and play. Here are my reasons for recently committing to working with writing buddies:
1) ACCOUNTABILITY – Let’s face it, we are world-class experts at procrastination. Our creativity alone makes us Ivy League good at coming up with excuses not to write. If you think you’re above this, skip to the next reason, but I doubt many will. We are ninja level procrastinators. Do any of these sound familiar? I need to:
- clean my closets
- do laundry
- rearrange the living room
- watch TV
- write Auntie Em
- reorganize dresser drawers
- read back issues of magazines??
Then, my friend, you are a procrastinator. Welcome to the club, it ain’t exclusive, but there are some really cool members.
Having a writing buddy cuts the b.s. factor in half, because they’re not going to buy into your lame excuses not to write. Another great benefit is:
2) TIME MANAGEMENT — When you have a writing buddy and have decided to jump out of the excuses box, the two of you will need to agree to a writing schedule. Depending on your personalities this is flexible or not. The writer I’m working with has a job, so she’s not available in the mornings when I prefer to get busy. Don’t get hung up on compatible schedules, that’s just another excuse to procrastinate. Work around your buddy’s schedule and you’ll discover that overall, you’ll immediately be finding more motivation to compose.
3) RESOURCES — I know you’re gifted and intelligent, but no one knows everything. Having a writing buddy gives you access to their methods, habits and research methods. Think of them as an advisor. Recently, my partner and I talked about developing a series for television. She was under the impression that it wasn’t de rigeur to assemble a series bible. After sharing my knowledge and recent research on this, she learned that this would weaken her ability to compete and is now working within industry format.
4) BRAINSTORMING — Assuming that you know your writing buddy really well and can trust them, the added benefit is that the two of you can brainstorm your respective projects. There is a magical quality to brainstorming that I learned working in public relations. Put at least two intelligent writers in a room and one hundred percent of the time the universe will deliver astounding ideas. It always happens!
Sometimes you need more than one writing buddy in order to have someone you can feel comfortable brainstorming with. Right now, I have three. Two I brainstorm with because I know them really well. One is more of an accountability partner and the other two are more creative associates. My best advice here is choose wisely.
5) EDITORIAL ASSISTANCE — Even if you’re like me and you have a Journalism degree and lots of experience as a professional writer, I highly recommend a writing buddy with whom you can share drafts before final publication/distribution. The truth is that as many times as you proofread a piece, you need a second set of trained eyes to catch mistakes.
If you have someone who a) you can rely on their discretion and integrity; and b) has the education/expertise to astutely edit, your work will vastly improve. Stephen King has accredited his wife Tabitha with much of his success for this very reason. Journalists always have an editor. Screenwriters usually work with a reader before submission. You cannot do it alone!
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that being a literary lone wolf isn’t the best way to write. How to proceed? If no one immediately comes to mind, put out a feeler. I found my writing buddy through twitter by putting out a feeler for a writing sprint. If you do this and no one replies, use the hashtag #writingsprint or #amwriting, I guarantee you’ll find someone using this method.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to make a long-term commitment to a writing buddy. If it’s not working, find another. Also, don’t rule out friends/family that perhaps aren’t writers, but who are still discerning. I, for instance, have my sister as one of mine. She’s not a writer per se, but she’s learned and has a critical eye. She also started a writing program at an ivy league college. Ha! Lucky me!
Good luck and get going!
© 2011-2014 Sidney Peck/Cinema Profound All Rights Reserved.