Writing Buddies: Why You Need Them, How to Find Them, What to Do With Them

Writing, by its very nature, is a solitary pursuit. Even those authors who work in tandem with others (co-writers, ghost writers, editors) must necessarily do their actual work by themselves. Fortunately, most of us who seek the writing life are not only mentally and emotionally equipped to handle the solitude, we may even crave it. Nevertheless, almost unarguably, a time comes for us all when the loneliness becomes a dark night and the battle seems too big to be fought on our own. That’s where writing buddies come into play.

Why We Need Writing Buddies

I’m one of those lone wolf types who inevitably (sometimes frustratingly) prefers the safety and tranquility of my own company to the madding crowd. I identify with the line from the 1994 adaptation of Little Women, in which a young Jo March (Winona Ryder) says,

Late at night my mind would come alive with voices and stories and friends as dear to me as any in the real world. I gave myself up to it, longing for transformation.

But there comes a time for all artists when even that glorious transformation isn’t quite enough to sustain us. There’s a time when we all need the encouragement and criticism and fellowship of flesh and blood co-conspirators.

How to Find Writing Buddies

That writing buddies aren’t that easily come by only makes them that much more treasured. Writers, being the strange lot they are, aren’t likely to find commiserative spirits—much less soul mates—lying around for the taking. In my experience, serendipity is just about the only factor you can count on in running across these special folks. But there are a number of things you can do to plant yourself in the path of a blessing:

1. Go where writers are.

2. Haunt writing forums and communities.

3. Establish relationships.

Writing buddies have come in and out of my life over the years. Some have been there since the beginning; some have stayed just long enough to help me survive one or two projects. But they’ve all left their impact. And I’ve been grateful for every one of them. Most of them have been long-distance relationships over the Internet. But I’ve also been blessed to have the face-to-face support of local friends.

What to Do With Writing Buddies

So, what do I do with all these helpful friends of mine? Well, we commiserate, of course. (“Beginnings are the pits.” “This editor has no idea what he’s talking about!” “You read So-and-So’s latest book? Of course you noticed that blatant POV switch on page 62!”) Having someone whose mind runs in concentric circles with my own is a one-of-a-kind blessing. I mean how many non-writers do you know who obsess about semicolons and deus ex machina? Or who go around chuckling gleefully at the thought of killing a certain evil character? Or who are crazy enough to get up at obscene hours of the night to scribble important plot points? It takes a writer to understand a writer. And sometimes just being understood is the greatest gift of the century.

But probably my writing friends’ single most important contribution is not the fact that they encourage my flights into my imaginary world, but rather that they keep my grounded in this world—by taking a good, hard realistic look at my work. They love my writing, and they give me those oh-so-necessary boosts by telling me so. But they’re also not afraid to utterly lambaste me when they see something they hate. Their honesty—and the fact that it is only brutal because they care about me and my work—is a tremendous gift. As much as I crave and love my solitude, I need and appreciate my writing buddies even more. No doubt, I’d still be here tapping away at the keyboard even without their support, but the fact that they’re there makes the journey a lot more fun all the way around.

In short, to all you folks who are out there writing right alongside of me, encouraging me, understanding me, and—occasionally—lambasting me: Thank you. You know who you are, and I’m very glad we’re in this crazy writing life together!

Tell me your opinion: Do you have writing buddies? Where did you find them?

Writing Buddies: Why You Need Them, How to Find Them, and What to Do With Them

 

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website.

Comments

  1. I totally agree with you when you say writers are an interesting lot. “Buddies” if you will, help in whatever hobby or work you’re involved with. I am sure that you know what I mean when I say that sometimes you think that your “buddies” have no idea what their talking about, only to discovered later on that they did know. Having a like minded buddy to help is truly a gift from God.

  2. I’m at that *craving solitude* time. The demands of the holidays are expensive in more ways than one. I haven’t had a long enough span of time to write, and I’m so out of practice, I’ll have to start with prompts again. And all the notes I’ve been jotting this month are sitting in a jumble on my desk where some evil imp translated them into Sanskrit. Come January, I’ll have to approach Mr. Puter with prayers and olive oil.

    I’ll have something to critique in January, too–won’t I????

    Merry Christmas, Buddy!

  3. Maybe I should get you an English/Sanskrit dictionary for Christmas.

    And, yes, you should have some critiquing waiting in your inbox in the next week or so.

    • I can only enjoy the new ways of long distance relationship in form AF online friends. Since in offline world, I can’t find peoples in my 100km diameter of social world, who would as much as read a book. Even if I forget the writing part.
      So if it wasn’t for internet. It would have been a completely solitary pursuit for me

      • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

        This is true for many writers. Almost all of my writing buddies are people I know strictly online.

  4. Morné Fouché says:

    I’m fortunate to have my brother as a writing buddy, albeit only during the holidays when I’m home. It’s great to simply read each other’s work, share ideas and have fun while doing it.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      That’s extremely awesome that you have a writing buddy built right into the family.

  5. I met most of my writing buddies on the Go Teen Writers Facebook Group but I’m also lucky to know a couple people in real life that are my writing buddies. (Real life writing buddies are hard to find xD and I say real life as in not online)

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Yes, we’re lucky to live in the online era, when we can find kindred spirits from all over the world.

  6. When this post first published I didn’t have a writing buddy. As it turns out, though, I had met her three months before. We just didn’t know it yet. She was crit partners with Linda Yezak at the time.

    The following year she emailed me asking if I would read the novel she’d just rewritten, before the ACFW conference in Denver. I said sure. We’ve been joined at the brain ever since.

    I live in Louisiana and she lives in Iowa, and we haven’t seen each other in two years. But that doesn’t stop us. We spent ALL DAY yesterday glued to our computers with Pandora and Google Talk . We call them Pandorathons, and we live for them. We each clocked about 3,000 words, which was doing great for both of us at the moment.

    I’m her biggest cheerleader, and she’s my biggest cheerleader. Without her support and excitement I never would have sent my science fiction romance out into the world, much less be publishing it myself next month.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      How awesome is that? I love hearing about the progression from the time this was first published to now. And “Pandorathons” – love that!

  7. Writing buddies and critique groups are like bands. You think the first will rock the world, but after you’ve gone through a few, you’re ready to hide in a cave and go solo. I’m actually setting a record with my current partner. We’ve been at it for almost two years now (really? I need to check on that). And we’re just now getting comfortable enough to call each other nasty names. Since she’s a she, she has the advantage over my desire to be be a gentleman against all odds. But it does make a difference. Just to have someone to bounce my wild ideas off of gives me comfort. And we’re even starting a serial novel together in a few weeks. It’s free for fan-generation purposes, but I’m having more fun with this than with any of my solo projects. Just be careful, gang. Don’t be afraid to dump your partners if their career goals fall behind yours. This is hard enough already.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      There’s truth in this. I’ve had partners who have been with me from the beginning and some who faze in and out from project to project.

  8. Sara Marschand says:

    I found my current writing buddy on Goodreads in one of those critique swap groups. It started with several more folks, but our similar situations make us somewhat kindred spirits. We both have ~6 yr old boys and ~3 yr old girls, no time, utter chaos, but we send each other challenges over Facebook. We have done some tandem stories too. Having someone to keep me on track (or guilty for not meeting my goal!) makes me strive a little harder. I’ve learned more about plotting from her; she now thinks twice before writing the word “that”. Most of all, it’s fun to have a writing buddy!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      It’s great when we can find someone who’s strengths complement our weaknesses – and vice versa. Really makes the partnership work.

  9. You’re right, these people are a gift. I have a hard time looking at my work with a balanced eye. One day it’s the greatest thing since Hemingway. The next day I look at the same writing and it seems like a piece of trash that only a third grader could have written.

    The problem with people like this is that they are hard to come by. And there is an investment of ourselves and our time because if we want others to be this for us, we have to be there for them.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      This is definitely true. I am tremendously aware of the time and effort that goes into critiquing, and it’s never something I ask lightly of anyone.

  10. thomas h cullen says:

    The Representative’s a one-time experience; the issue therefore of finding a writing pal is no longer valid.

    What’s still valid, however, what’s still very much a point of concern is people communication – the only real way to progress from the current status quo, to another that’s insurmountably greater.

    Harder and harder, I now make the effort to indulge other people – to make conversation, or to linger around them, because this is what a belief in genuine change calls for.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Yes, marketing is a challenge all its own.

      • thomas h cullen says:

        The Representative – finally, it’s now on the verge of being discovered.

        Days, weeks and months I’ve waited, for just one human being to read it and then speak back to me its identity, being courageous enough to confirm back to me what it is – what it is, I’ve achieved and destroyed with it.

        Ed Roberts, of the marketing services company, Authoright – any day now, I’m hopefully due to hear something back from him.

        You’d never imagine it…….the context, in which he’d simply just requested that I send him TR.

  11. Okay, pass the Dummy Suit to me. Hmm, perfect fit! So, where do writers go on the Internet? And what writing forums would you recommend? Um, the zipper is stuck on this suit. I guess I’ll just have to keep wearing it!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Google writing forums for your genre. If you write Christian fiction, I recommend ChristianWriters.com. If you write science fiction or fantasy, give Critters.org a try.

  12. Thank you, Katie! 🙂

  13. Amethyst Lindell says:

    I found quite a few writing buddies on the Nanowrimo site.Any writer should check this site out,it’s amazing.Their is a page where you can get to know other writers and request to be writing buddies.Hope this was helpful to someone!

  14. i totally agree with you! i have a writing buddie since i was born, my cousin 🙂 we both love to read, and we both love to write! i can even call her at the middle of night with some crazy plot ideas 🙂 writing buddies are the best 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      That’s great! Always lovely when your family offers a built-in writing partner.

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