Writing is a solo activity best done with friends.
Yeah, that sounds contradictory. Frankly, it is contradictory. In my experience, however, I have found it to be true. Writing is more fun when someone else is reading what you write.
In a prior blog post, I spoke about the importance of writing critique groups and how they can help hone a writer’s craft. Beyond just the technical aspects of writing, there are other advantages to having one or more friends read your stories, particularly if you are a new author.
First of all, a friend can give you encouragement to continue writing. When I have an audience reading my manuscripts, I have a greater desire to write. It’s fun to hear someone else talk about the characters John and I created and speculate on where our story is headed.
A reader friend can also encourage you to meet the writing deadlines you set for yourself. If a reader is waiting for the next installment of your story, you have a good reason to sit down and write it. Half the battle of writing is…well…writing. I’ve known authors who started a novel enthusiastically with a great idea, but lost momentum part way through the book and never finished.
Writing a novel is a long endeavor. I cannot speak for everyone, but I suspect that very few people can stay super-enthused about a long project on each and every day of that project. There will be days when you just don’t feel like writing. One of those days or even two may not be a problem, but they can easily stretch into procrastination and writer’s block. Having to meet a deadline for a friend can help keep those non-writing days from lengthening.
If your reader is a fellow writer, you get the additional benefit of helpful suggestions and/or critiques of what you have written. There is not, however, any requirement that your reader must be a writer.
Our Emerald Cove writing critique group meets every month via Zoom. Back in December, Danny and I decided that wasn’t often enough, so we started once-a-week Zoom meetings. The two of us get together every Thursday morning to exchange chapters, discuss and critique the chapters we received the previous week, and chat about the world for a while. It’s been working very well so far. Both of us have the incentive to finish a chapter each week to exchange with the other and we get rapid feedback on the prior week’s chapter. I am nearing the end of the first draft of my current manuscript and Danny is on chapter nine of his new novel.
By meeting with just the two of us, we have time for in-depth discussions of each other’s writing. We’ve also been able to help each other prevent writer’s block, by kicking around thoughts and ideas about upcoming chapters. (Of course, I do that a lot with John, but sometimes it’s nice to have a perspective of an individual who is not my co-author.)
We call our Thursday meetings Weekly Emeralds, and they certainly have helped us dig up a few gems!