Writing Buddies

I met Angela (who blogs at Telling New Stories) three years ago, and upon discovering that she enjoyed writing I told her about an idea I had for a book. She said two words in response that changed my life: “Write it.”

Upon hearing those words, I huffed. Yeah, right! How was I going to write a book? Who was I? Hemingway? It wasn’t like I could go sit at the Starbucks with my notebook and my laptop and bang out a novel. I had my two little guys and my big guy (my husband) at home, and I worked, and I had stuff to do, and… and… and…

A million excuses. But still, as the plot for my novel unraveled in my head, I heard her voice saying those words over and over. “Write it.”

Guess what? I did. I carved out some “me time” and wrote. It was a disaster. My first chapters were all over the place, but the act of writing down my idea and seeing my characters emerge was exciting. It gave me a selfish purpose, and a goal, and a creative outlet, and something to think about on my morning commute. I now had a hobby: writing.

I learned so much from writing that first project. I learned that every great scene you can think up in your head doesn’t necessarily have to be put into your first project. I learned that too much is sometimes just too much, and that keeping it simple didn’t necessarily result in a substandard result. I learned that in order to rewrite and edit, you had to actually read what you wrote– the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly– and cringe, and shake your head at your grammar or your giant plot holes.

I learned that you don’t have to be Hemingway to write– that you just have to be you. You don’t have to sit in a cafe and spend days in front of a laptop. You can steal time here and there.

As proud of myself as I was when that first project was finished, I was never so happy as when I sent it to Angela to read and she later wrote me an email that included these words: I love it so much! I still have the email. I vowed to save it forever since it was my first feedback on something I created.

Since then, Angela and I have shared our work, mentoring each other. We decided to take a leap and collaborate on a topic we both love. Currently, Angela and I are working on a project together that we refer to as “Project Z,” and our first draft of our work will be completed by Sunday. We’re both super psyched.

I have to admit I was a bit nervous about partnering. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up, that my writing wasn’t as polished as Angela’s, and that we’d stall out. After a couple of bumps in the road, we’re right on track. I think that we make a good team. We’re lucky that way.

Writers. Have you ever worked with a partner?

If you find that your writing life has become stagnant, or that despite your desire to write you just can’t seem to make it happen, I suggest finding a partner. Someone that you know and trust and feel comfortable with. One of the great benefits of partnering is having someone rely on you for your work product. That little bit of pressure can motivate you, and like we writers know, sometimes getting started is the hardest part. When you begin, you often desire to keep on going.

Also, it’s helpful to have feedback and somebody to bounce ideas off, and to attack an idea from two different viewpoints. You have to be willing to have an open mind about your partner’s ideas, which hopefully is reciprocated, and you can’t be intimidated or embarrassed when her idea is better than yours. That is how you learn and grow.

Writing doesn’t have to be a lonely craft. In fact, partnering up with a Writing Buddy may be just the catalyst you need to really get things moving in your writing life.

Let me know what you think, or if you have any advice or experience with writing partnerships that may be helpful. As always, thanks for reading!

38 Comments

  1. I have a writing friend who reviews some of my stuff for me. While we both write in the trade fiction genre, our styles of writing are WAAAAY different. Different perspectives is a good thing, but I feel like I sometimes don’t do the service due to her work because it is so far outside my comfort zone grammatically. That being said, she’s always able to tell me when my ideas aren’t great in a straight-forward way.

    Project Z sounds exciting, Jess. I can’t wait to learn more about what you and Angela have been working on!

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    • Yes, I think blogging has really helped me too. I feel like it has boosted my confidence, and I am learning so much from other bloggers. There’s so much good stuff out there on WordPress, yes? Feel free to check out Angela at tellingnewstories.com. She’s the brains behind our writing operation! Thanks for reading and supporting! I hope I can do the same for you.

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  2. I almost feel weird liking and commenting on this post–kinda like how you’re not supposed to clap for yourself when your name is called at an award ceremony–but I can’t resist saying once again: “I love it so much!” I think that every night as I read your blog posts and every time we swap pages. Thanks for being a writing inspiration and motivator for me and also a completely awesomesauce collaborator!

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  3. Hey Jess

    Wonderfully inspiring post. In keeping with your references, remember that most of what Hemingway wrote wasn’t Hemingway either, in that he too probably threw away a lot of material that he considered hackneyed or sub-par, and all we read now is the cream of that very prodigious crop.

    As for writing with partners, I think it’s a wonderful thing, but you’ve got to be honest with yourself as to whether you have found the right partner. As with any relationship, the wrong partner becomes very toxic very quickly. But when you find the right one…ooh la la!

    I am fortunate enough to be working with two other talented writers/creatives on a sketch comedy television show (to be shortly produced). In our case, the work is entirely collaborative as all material goes through everyone who can make suggestions, changes or nix the piece entirely (2 of 3 falls). No egos allowed at the table. Just the pleasure of making each others’ works better.

    Keep writing! Randy

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    • Thanks for the comment. It sounds like you have a good team. I love the no egos around the table rule, too. I think writers struggle with that. We love our stuff, right? I was lucky to find Angela. We entered each other’s lives at just the right time I think. But I certainly can see how the wrong partner can really make things messy.

      Good luck with your work! I will check out your blog. Thanks for reading.

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  4. Hi Jess, You and Angela are very lucky to have met one another. I’m curious how you two met? The only writers I ever “meet” are here in the blogosphere. Were you in a class together? Or was it just random? Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I love your story, it sounds a lot like how I started. Only my friend was my mom and not so the words “write it” but the handing me pen and paper. She’s a mom she can do that. thanks for the morning pick me up.

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  6. Insightful post, Jess. I tend to forget that I have to just let it happen but Somehow I end up judging my lines even before I write them. I wish you all the best for your project Z and I would love to read your book when it comes out. I bet it’ll be awesomesauce!

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  7. Great post–and I agree having a writing partner is so great. True, the last time I had a real collaborator I was in the 8th grade, but we wrote some great stuff. I hope someday to convince her to come back to our “Sweet Cherry High ” parody. But

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  8. Some of the greatest and my most beloved “writings” (not necessarily novels, but scripts, music, lyrics etc.) were written the way you describe. Only problem is to find someone to cooperate with. I think it’s even harder than forming a love relationship xD

    Take care🙂

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  9. Pingback: What Inspires You? | Waiting on a Word

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