My third guest post and a good one! Maria Smith is a prize-winning writer, chief barista at the First Draft Cafe and organizer of some cracking writing trips. Here she gives some great advice on writing buddies.
The Write Sort of Friend
Buddy, mate, partner, in fact whatever you feel most comfortable calling your writing pal. Now you may ask yourself, why would I want a writing pal? Well, this person is someone who has a good knowledge of writing – they will critique your work, tell you if your plot holds together and generally offer you support and general criticism about your writing. They are there to offer you moral support and encouragement in your life as a writer.
The benefits are enormous if you can find the right person and are able to make the relationship work successfully for both of you. Above all else, it must be someone you trust.
My pal and I are in contact throughout the week; via email we exchange each other’s work. We share any competition or market news, offer each other advice on submitting, celebrate any successes and lament over rejections.
He will focus on my work, give me useful information, whilst pointing out any weakness in my manuscript and generally makes him self available for second, third and even fourth rewrites! He is consistent with his comments, reading or listening objectively to my work. I offer him the same in return.
Only another writer can fully understand the struggles associated with the writing life. They can sympathise, empathise and generally and genuinely help you to get through.
So where do you find such a person? Where is this editor, critic, this friend, and your own personal fan to be found? I hear you cry.
I assure you that they can be found, but sometimes it takes a bit of work on your part. It may take you a few weeks or even months to unearth the right person. If you are a member of a writing circle or an online forum then you have lots of potential writing pals. You may meet up at a writer’s conference or maybe at a creative writing class in your local area, then again your pal maybe someone on the other side of the globe that you’ve found through a writers newsgroup. Take your time and choose wisely.
Do try and find out if you have a few things in common, apart from writing that is…as your new pal must be someone you feel comfortable with, as you will be showing him your most precious work. Try to look for someone who you feel at ease with, they don’t necessarily have to write prose of the same genre as you but it may help if you have a common interest like short stories, poetry, travel writing or humour.
I like to meet up with my pal every few weeks for a coffee, we don’t live too far away from each other and this works for us and our situation and it’s our chance to catch up, exchange goals and swap ideas. Everyone is different though and what works for one pair may not work for another.
I’ve written and submitted far more than ever before since the arrival of my writing pal. I’ve seen big improvements in my own writing since we’ve paired up together and he has in his work too! We’ve both benefited greatly from the companionship and support that has been there for us 24/7.
Just knowing that someone is going through the same things as you are and that they are available to help you through the tough times is inspiring in it self. There are some things that only another writer will understand.
We regularly discuss and set our writing goals, finding they are similar. We talk about the problems awaiting us as writers and try to formulate a plan to face them together.
It does take a bit of work to get a friendship like this up and running, but it will be worth it, as your pal will motivate you in all sorts of ways. When you are working with someone else you tend to get more done. Your pal understands you in ways your family and friends will not.So what are you waiting for? Get out there and find yourself a writing buddy.