Writers tend to be loners. It is just a fallacy of the art. We draw away for long periods of time with only our own thoughts and imagination for company. It is totally normal to find us blinking madly in the brightness of daylight because we have spent too many hours indoors in front of the glow of our screens or nose pressed to the pages.
Don’t get me wrong. Dedication to the craft is a beautiful thing. And while it is absolutely important for a writer to learn how to turn off the distractions and demands of everyday life, to be able to zone into the creative flow – too much time alone as a writer is adangerous thing.
Let me tell you why:
- There is no one to cheer you on when you feel like you suck. Lots of writers quit in the middle of writing projects because they talk themselves into quitting. They never took the time to invite someone else in to their process to remind them to keep going. We need people to regularly check in with us to remind us why we are doing what we are doing, and why it matters.
- There is no one there to help you when you get stuck. When we hit the wall and our writing comes to a stand still, we need someone who can help us find our way out of the pit that is writers block. It is important to identify someone to turn to who will help us talk out the challenges we are having and begin to dream again about what could be. We need someone who will put their head together with ours to find a strategy for moving forward.
- There is no one to tell you the truth when you need to hear it. Let’s be real here. We have moments when we do suck. Most of the time, our first drafts are works in progress and they aren’t winning any awards yet. Writing is a process, and more often than not, you will experience moments when you have to literally or metaphorically (thanks to computers) “rip out the page” and throw it away. Ands usually, we need help throwing the page away when we have become emotionally attached to our not-award-worthy crap. We need someone to help coach us and push us to never settle for first drafts.
That’s why we need writing buddies. We need a small tribe of people who challenge us, grow us and cheer us on. Below are three writing buddies you should find to be part of your tribe:
- The Cheerleader – We all need someone to cheer us on and remind us when its hard that the we are doing work that is important to us. Your cheerleader will encourage you when you need it, and push you to keep going, even when you don’t feel like it.
- The Coach – We have to someone to bounce ideas off of on the regular, someone who can strategize with us, dream with us and help us navigate the discomfort of writers block. They don’t focus on where you are now, but where you need to go. And they partner with you to help you get there.
- The Critic – We have to have someone who will tell us the truth when we need to hear it. The critic is definitely not the cheerleader. They are not there to fluff you up or stroke your ego. Nor are they there to rain on your parade. Their purpose is to help you take a real, hard look at the quality of your writing, and to ensure you are really producing your best work.
Female comedian, Amy Poehler once said, “Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” If we are really blessed, we will find a few people who can be a combination of all three writing buddies – the cheerleader, the coach and the critic. Because trust me when I say this, you need them. Stick to the buddy system.