I think one of the most-widely circulated lies about writing is that it’s a solitary profession. I heartily disagree. If done right, it should not be solitary. Some days it’s hard to get a word out; some plot holes seem too big to patch up. But what can help both of those things? A writing buddy!
I’d tried writing with friends in the past, and it never lasted. And then, during my MFA program, I found myself in more than one class with the same person, and even better? I really liked the first two chapters of the novel she submitted to our workshop. I’m kinda awkward (what even is making friends as an adult??), but my partner encouraged me to message her and ask if she needed a writing buddy. So, before the quarter ended, I finally did.
My writing buddy, it turned out, had an entire completed draft of her novel (like me) and it was the first of a planned trilogy (like me!). I already knew I liked her style, and thankfully she liked mine, too. We were both writing fantasy with strong romantic subplots. We both had been working on our projects for years. We both loved cats (yes, this is important). We exchanged emails, and then chapters, and then ideas, and now, almost two years later, we still do.
My writing buddy and I have exchanged almost five whole books between us at this point. Are they great books? Not yet (I speak more for myself here). But have we helped each other make them better? Absolutely yes. If I have a plot hole I need help with, I ask her. If I’m considering something about my magic system, I bring it to her. If she isn’t sure about a character’s fate, she asks my opinion. If she’s trying to solve a problem, she poses it to me.
One of the best parts about having a writing buddy, though, is that I’ve found someone who not only wants to read my work, but actually looks forward to it. In any creative endeavor, especially after literal years of toil, it can feel like your writing/story/script/art is just…not good. Well, the phrase I’ve used to describe my own work at times is “sucks ass.” Especially when the rejections pile up and far outnumber the acceptances, it can be so easy to get bogged down and want to give up on your art. But having my writing buddy has been great for my confidence. She’s my friend and fan, and I’m inclined to trust her critique when she tells me something works or needs adjusting.
I highly recommend getting a writing buddy who will not only be honest with you, but also enjoys your work. Everyone needs positive reinforcement sometimes, and it can be equally encouraging to cheer on someone else as they struggle along the same path as you.
Writing should not be a solitary act. Kita’s story would be far messier if I didn’t have a reader looking at everything so closely, and someone who knows my world as well as my writing buddy. And on the days when writing is so hard, it’s nice to have a friend who understands the struggle to churn out words. She’s part-time editor, cheerleader, alpha reader, and full-time amazing friend.
Writing should not be a solitary act, and that’s why it’s absolutely crucial to have writer friends. Find kindred spirits who feel the same drive and need. Help each other when things get tough. And write together! Promote each other! Celebrate successes!
Check out my writing buddy’s website and incredible projects here.
And check out her blog on this topic here.
(Yes, we coordinated this.)
What I wrote this week: Chs 10 and 11 of novella revision; Draft 4, Eva’s arc.
What I read this week: Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore; Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.