For this month’s chilled out post we’re talking about writing buddies. With everything that’s going off in the world right now I didn’t want to get talking about anything too heavy or personal because I think we’re all reading a little too much negative or worrying content at the moment. There’s also a big push to stay connected and catch up with friends and family members to make sure that everyone is doing ok. So, while everyone is thinking about friendship, I wanted to talk about why having writing friends is an important part of being a writer.
Just before I get into the post, I did just want to apologise for the lack of blog post last Wednesday. I haven’t been very well and needed some time to rest and recover. I’m still ill at the moment but I didn’t really want to miss two weeks of blogging in a row. Hopefully I’ll be on the mend soon and back to normal, but if anything changes regarding my blog posts, I’ll keep you up to date via social media. With that all sorted, let’s get into today’s post.
A fresh pair of eyes
We’ve all been there; you’ve been sitting in front of your laptop for hours and it’s got to the point where you can’t quite make one word out from the next. The information slowly merges together as your brain turns to mush. You’ve been looking at your work for far too long.
It’s always important to take a break from your work when you’re editing it, it could be a quick half an hour break or it could be a few days, either way it’s always a good idea to close down your word document and do something totally unrelated. What this does is allow you to distance yourself from your work and come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes, you’re far more likely to spot any mistakes this way. The only limitation to this when you’re writing a novel is the little fact that you know (or should know) the plot inside out at this point. This means that if you don’t explain something very well your brain will be filling in the information you’ve missed out. This is where your writing friends come in.
Giving your manuscript to someone else to skim over is so beneficial, they’re far more likely to spot any plot holes, weird pacing and general spelling mistakes then you are. You can give anyone your draft, but I think if you have a writing buddy it’s definitely worth asking them if they’ll give it a quick look over. They’ll be more critical minded and any points they give you to work on will most likely be more constructive and targeted to specific issues you’re wanting to address.
At university when we do workshops I’m always very blunt when I hand my work over to my fellow writers, I tell them to be harsh, and they get extra brownie points if they spot spelling and grammar mistakes (something I need a lot of help to spot). When I’m giving them my work, I’m not looking for compliments, I’m looking criticism. They know this and will offer me far harsher feedback then say a family member or friend who isn’t a writer. They’re still kind and always try to slip in a bit of feedback to what they enjoyed about my work, but they understand that criticism is very much appreciated, and they’ll offer me that.
Getting over the fear of people reading your work
Before university I was terrified of anyone reading my work, especially my drafts. I was convinced that I could write an entire book without a single person reading it until it was published. Sure, I guess it is possible to write a novel and never to have anyone other than you read it. But being honest, it’s probably going to be a bit rubbish. You need people to look over it, you need feedback. But it’s scary giving your work to other people.
Giving your draft to a writer is probably one of the safer options if you’re feeling nervous or scared of people reading your work. If someone’s a writer, they usually introverted and will most likely know where you’re coming from so not really going to judge you too harshly on your fears. Of course, there are extroverted writers, but the majority of writers are introverted. Having a writer buddy allows you to slowly desensitise yourself to the fear of people reading your work and judging you.
At the end of the day, not everyone is going to like your work. We are all individuals with unique tastes and preferences and as a writer it’s not possible to please everyone. It’s very important to accept this fact and get over the fear of people disliking what you’ve written.
They will understand the struggles!
Being a writer isn’t the worst job in the world, is not easy, but I can think of plenty of jobs that are significantly harder than writing a book. This being said, writing a book is a lot harder than most people believe. An awful lot of what goes into it, countless hours of research, a level of organisation and self-discipline and ultimately there’s a degree of sacrifice, if you have a full-time job and are writing a book in your spare time you’re going to have to sacrifice a few evenings out with your friends or relaxing.
I can have a bit of a moan to my family members who aren’t writers and a lot of what I’m complaining about probably sounds a bit petty and insignificant to them. It’s not that what I’m moaning about is petty, it’s just that they don’t understand some difficulties that you will go through when writing a book. It’s simply a matter of perspective and understanding.
However, if I talk to one of my classmates about a particularly difficult scene I’m writing or a plot hole I’ve suddenly noticed, they’re going to be far more understanding than say my family members. They’ve most likely been there, and they will understand the frustrations.
I can be talking to my flat mates (who are all on different course to me) about the sheer workload I have, that I have three books to read this week, a short story, a personal essay and a bunch of character profiling to do… not to mention find time to work on my own book and blog and they just don’t get it. Unlike them I only have about 6 hours of classes a week (some of my flatmates can have 14 hours or more) what in their eyes is loads of time for write a few paragraphs. But it’s not just a few paragraphs, it’s sometimes a whole short story, it’s an essay and all of these need meticulous editing. I know a lot of my non writer friends think my degree is an absolute walk in the park. I don’t have many classes and I don’t have any exams; how hard can it be? But in truth, writing is a lot of hard work. I’m creating detailed worlds out of thin air! My creativity is pushed to its limits every day what I love don’t get me wrong, but it’s not easy. It’s moments like these that I really appreciate having writing buddies. They just get it; I can rant to them and it’s so nice to know that someone else understands.
I understand not everyone has the opportunity to study writing University and as a result be surrounded by fellow writers. Most people do have to make the writing buddies online (myself included for the most part) and that can be difficult. So, if you are a writer and you want a writing buddy always feel free to pop me a message in the comments below and make sure to get back to you.
I hope you enjoyed today’s post, it’s more relaxed and chattier than what I’ve been doing as of late, but I think there’s a time and a place that and that was today. Remember you are wanting to start a conversation about anything writing based please don’t hesitate to message me in the comments.
Hope you will have a fantastic day and I will see you next Wednesday.