Over the past few years I’ve made a few good writer friends. One I met in person when I tried to start a writer’s group. The group crashed and burned, but something beautiful bloomed out of the ashes. A friendship formed. God, that’s melodramatic. She’s going to laugh at me if she reads this.
Other friends I’ve met on the awesome networking/writing website, Wattpad. I have people I Skype with, people I swap beta reads with and email back and forth with. Some of these people know me better than a lot of my real life acquaintances.
And of course, I’m fast friends with a terrific group of writers and vloggers called The Word Nerds. We beta for one another, share our triumphs and our difficult days, and promote one another. We keep up a consistent string of emails that never really die out. We are in constant contact with one another. (I’ll leave a link to the Words Nerd’s Vlog below, if anyone is curious about our videos).
Having writer friends is essential. It will make you a better writer, it will boost your confidence and soothe your soul. And a lot of the time, it’s vital to your sanity.
Here’s why you need to make friends with fellow writers:
1) They understand what the heck you’re talking about.
When you start ranting about how the book you’re reading uses ridiculous dialogue tags, or how someone on facebook uses “than” when they should use “then”, other writers will understand exactly what you’re talking about. The non-writers (or pen-muggles, as Chuck Wendig calls them) won’t understand what you’re making such a fuss over.
It’s good to have someone who is able to commiserate with you, rather than look at you like your bat has left the belfry.
2) Nobody else truly understands what rejection means.
Of course other people are going to know how rejection feels. Lots of people have been told they need to work harder, or fired from a job, but there aren’t many jobs that come with a string of constant rejections. It doesn’t matter if you’re traditionally published, indie or self, there is always going to be someone telling you that you stink. That your writing sucks, that you should quit, that you should keep your day job.
Only someone who has heard those words before knows how that feels.
3) They’ll talk you down.
This relates to number two. When you get that rejection, or that negative review, sometimes it hurts so much you think about doing something silly. Maybe you want to reply to a negative review, or to a rejection from an agent. Maybe you want to rant on twitter or Facebook. Maybe you’re going to quit trying, or change your mind about what publishing path you’re going to take for all the wrong reasons.
That’s when your writer friends step in. They tell you not to quit/start drinking/write a nasty comment on that review. Then they tell you that other person didn’t read it properly/doesn’t like literature/obviously has the IQ of a goldfish. Whatever it is you need to hear. And sometimes it comes in the form of “don’t you dare” or “put on your big-girl panties”, because they love you, and they don’t want you to make a dumb move for your career.
Writer friends will save your sanity. They’ll quietly (and out of the public eye) patch up your wounds and have you ready to jump back into the fray in no time.
4) You can brainstorm with them.
There’s nothing like a really great brainstorming session with your writer buddies. Getting stuck on a plotting problem? Suffering writer’s block? Sit down and hash it out with your friends. No doubt they’ll have a suggestion to move things along, to get you going again.
Not only that, but if your plot has holes, or just sucks in general, a good writer friend will give you the heads up.
5) They’ll beta read for you.
Your manuscript is going to need some serious polishing before you send it off to agents/publishers/self pub it. You need a beta reader with some serious skills. Every writer has their strengths, and getting a few of your writer friends to beta for you should cover all the bases of grammar/ spelling/plot and character development. You want a good mix of everything. And your friends won’t beat around the bush, they’ll tell you what you need to work on because they know how important feedback is. They know because they’re writers.
6) They’ll go with you.
There’s that bookstore down the street you really want to go to, but your non-writer friend doesn’t want to spend an entire eight hours there (what is wrong with her?) and you need someone who will sniff the books with you. Put the book signal in the sky, it’s time to call your writer friends.
I go to a writer’s conference every year, and my writer friend goes with my every time. It’s nice to have someone to go with when you’re meeting new people.
And I want to go to Comicon/Dragoncon/Leakycon….so many cons! Want to know who I’m going to end up going with? Yup, more writers.
7) Because they get you.
It’s sort of the same as number one, but it’s true enough to say twice. Nobody else is going to understand the caffeine and chocolate overdose you had last week, or the tantrum you threw when your computer crashed and ate half your manuscript, or that corny joke you keep telling about bad punctuation.
Your writer friends will think your “I’ll put you in my novel” t-shirt is cool, and help you pick out a bag that fits all your books, and talk about your characters like they’re real people. They’ll be understanding when all you want to do is sit in a corner and read, and they’ll agree that books are better than movies.
Now that I’ve said all that, I encourage you to tell your writer friends how awesome they are. Or if you don’t have any, get out there and make some new friends. Go to writer’s groups, or workshops. Sign up for conferences or join a writer’s website. Put yourself out there and you’ll find them. There are lots of us out there.
Oh, and before I forget, if you want to check out who exactly the Word Nerds are, you can go HERE.
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