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!