Friday, October 31, 2008

The Importance of Writing Friends

Just now, I got a package from my dear friend Minion. In it was a writer's survival kit: a cheesy romance novel, a bar of dark chocolate, and a mix CD full of songs to inspire writing. Just add a glass of red wine, and instant sanity.

I am going through a huge period of upheaval in my life right now. A relationship that has been absolutely pivotal in my life is changing. I've left a place where I was very happy for a future that's uncertain. Some days, writing is my only escape--and other days all I want to do is huddle in a corner and cry. My writing friends keep me sane--and keep me writing even through troubled times. Here are a few reasons why you need good writing friends.

They keep you grounded. A good writing friend brings you down to earth when you get caught up in your own mind. She reminds you that you rock when you're mired in self doubt. She convinces you that your dreams are possible when you're sure they're not. She keeps you from feeling overwhelmed with your own puniness in the face of your goals. A good friend reminds you that success happens one page and one word at a time.

They keep you inspired. A good writing friend shares her writing mix and her first drafts. She commiserates with you on your worst sentences and shows you work that keeps you going. She suggests readings. She keeps your mind on your writing even when you become uninspired.

They keep you on track. In my writing circle, we have weekly contests. Whoever gets the word count first gets a prize. It really gets my competitive streak--I'm committed to a word count every week, and I'm answerable if I fail. If you're having trouble being productive, a group of committed writing friends who care about your progress can be a godsend.

There's a cliche about writing being a lonely life--and in a way, it is. But a writing community is often essential to success. A group of reliable writing friends may just make the difference between another unproductive year and your first novel.

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