Every writer should have a writing buddy, but they are a rare species, especially good ones! People who are encouraging, know enough about writing to actually be of help, and who are able to tell you if something isn’t working. Writing buddies aren’t editors; Mez and I will edit each other’s work, but we aren’t expert editors. It’s more about finding obvious errors and, even more, telling each other what we like. Let’s face it, when it comes to our writing, writer’s have fragile egos. There will be plenty of people to critique your work when it gets into the publishing process. Writing buddies are for encouragement, accountability, sounding boards, and general writing errors. Tough order to find, right?
I think one of the reasons it’s so hard to find writing buddies is how secretive writers tend to be about their writing. Mez talked about this in one of her first posts, how hard it can be for a writer to admit that, well, they are a writer.
Why on earth is this so hard? There’s a very small handful of people I’ll show my writing to. Like, three people. And Mez is the only one I talk to about it. It’s easier writing about it like this in the blog, but I don’t talk about it. Or can’t. Literally. Typing about it, sure. Talking, no way.
Any of you have this issue? If so, you aren’t alone. Do you work alone, maybe close the laptop or journal when someone comes in? Don’t ever tell anyone you are a writer?
I think it’s so hard because writing is so intensely personal. You can’t help but put some of yourself into your writing. Who your characters are, what they go through, their hopes and dreams, it all comes out of your head. There’s no distancing yourself from it.
And, of course, there’s the “Is it good?” Mez touched on this in one of her earlier posts. What if it’s stupid, or boring, or cliche? When you hand someone something so personal, especially someone you know, even a lukewarm reaction can hurt. “Oh, I enjoyed.” Hands it back, and moves on. Wait, what?? I spent 200 hours on this, and that’s all I get??
And that’s where writing buddies come in, people who understand. People who can tell you what they enjoyed about it, why it was good. To encourage you when you think it’s all trash, to keep you to a schedule (sort of), and be a sounding board.
Obviously, my writing buddy is Mez! Wanna know how it came about? Me too…can barely remember how it all started.
I moved from a public school to a private Christian school in the eighth grade. I’m super shy around strangers, so I followed the only girl I knew around like a shadow. Lydia, thank you for putting up with me! Mez wasn’t there at the time, she was being home-schooled, though she had gone there when she was younger. So when someone heard I’d switched schools, they asked me if I knew her.
No, didn’t know her.
I got asked that question twice more. I can’t remember if it was the same person, all I knew was it was ticking me off (I tend to overreact to stuff…it’s a character flaw I’m trying to work on :). NO, I DON’T know her!
I briefly saw her at my church’s VBS with her brother, realized who she was, and basically thought, “oh, it’s her.” Can’t you tell what a warm, fuzzy person I am?
Anyway, she started at my school again (er, her school since technically she was there first) and we became friends. Easy to do when there’s only 36 people in your grade. I started writing down the stories in my head in high school, but I can’t remember when or even why. I do know it’s easier to write than to read when the teacher is, well, teaching and I got bored easy. But somehow, it started. After high school, I started going over to Mez’s house, and we’d talk through stories (I’m ashamed to say I think I did most of the talking). Again, I don’t remember how this routine started, but it did. Then we traveled Europe together (with Brittany and her awesome French), then Mez studied abroad in England and I flew by myself for the first time to see her over Thanksgiving. A new routine started, and now I go to see her once a year, and she usually gets stateside about once a year. But we still send encouragement through texts, skype, and reading over each other’s work. In other words, I love the internet.
So, I guess you could say we stumbled into being writing buddies. We were friends who both happened to be writers.
Since writers can be such solitary, secretive creatures, it can be hard for us to connect with each other. If we can’t even admit we are writers, how can we know who to talk to? Again, internet to the rescue! That is one of the reasons Mez and I started this blog. To encourage other writers, and let you know you aren’t alone.
So, you aren’t alone, even if right now you are reading this on your phone so no one knows. Even if you’ve never shown anyone what you’ve written. You aren’t the only one. And believe it or not, even if they don’t get it, most people are encouraging once you get up the courage to admit you like to write. So try to work up the courage. You’ll need it when it comes time to publish. My heart’s pounding just thinking about it, and not in a good way. But that’s why I have Mez, who makes me query agents despite the fact it scares the living daylights out of me. Who tells me my character isn’t boring and she can’t wait for the scene I’m writing.
So here’s to all of you out there. Keep writing and Mez and I will try to encourage you here.
As Dory would say if she was a writer, “Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing, writing, writing!”
Great words to live by!