No, I don’t mean coming across someone who looks like your main character in your normal coffee shop though that can happen! I’m talking about the people you can surround yourself with who will help you get to where you want to be in your writing career. We all think of the main ones – publishers, editors, and readers – but they don’t need to come from far away magical places. Let me break down the people I have surrounding me and why they are awesome.
- Creative Friends – These are probably the type of people you already attract so you shouldn’t need to do too much to draw on this asset. My creative circle tries to have at least one creative night a month. This consists of one of us opening our homes and outlets to the other creative minds to come to work together. Obviously it’s a loose workspace where brainstorming can be done out loud and others can throw back feedback and suggests. Careful though, this is where most of the non-sequiturs come from. “And suddenly everyone could fly!”
- A Serious Writing Group – If you don’t already have one, there are a few great places to start your search. If it’s anywhere near NaNoWriMo check your home region for write ins and hang outs. Any other time throughout the year, check with your local library for a writing group or see about starting one through them. (I may make a post about that later.) The great thing about a serious writing group is that you will connect with other writers who are at different levels of the writing game than you are. And you can learn a lot from each of them. At my library group, I sit next to a few published authors and across from some editors and literary majors. Even the “lower” levels open my eyes to how I can put more writing into my hectic schedule. You will also benefit from critiques, writing prompts, and other writerly topics of discussion. Heads up though, these may not all come in one group. If they don’t, join multiple or find outside sources for these things. (I’m sure I will talk about many in the future.)
- An Honest Critic – Yes, you do need one early on. My best critic happens to be a very important person in my life even outside of writing. When we first met in a small writing group, I got very mad whenever he would point out plot holes or question why a certain part or person was even in my novel. I claimed he didn’t know what he was talking about but I did because I was the author. Of course eventually I had to be honest with myself and tell myself that this part or person really didn’t fit or even that I really had no clue what I was doing with this novel in the first place. An honest critic should be able to look at your work in many ways – at the plot as a whole, at character development, and all the way down to the tiniest editorial and revising mistakes. So don’t just go grab that brutally honest friend if they don’t know their English stuff. Maybe you can grab that new connection you made in the writing group you just joined.
- Your Number One Fan – This directly counters your critic sometimes but often you need someone who will read your stuff religiously and bug you for the next chapter/sequel because they love everything so much. Yes, this can be your mom. The importance of this person is to encourage you on your dream more than anyone else because they see how important it is to you. They also come in handy right after your last meeting with your critic to tell you that no. it really isn’t all crap and there are good parts to salvage. They also remind you that in the end it is your writing and you can tell your critic off if you need to.
- Someone to Write With Regularly – This is important because you can help each other to stick with your project even when it’s going very poorly. Though this person, you can see that every writer does have rough spots and that talking in circles about your novel really can help you figure things out. These people are great for coffee meetings and inside jokes about each others’ stories. Beware though, they are also well-known to suggest watching certain show or movie just to see how you can write this concept you are trying to make believable. (Actually those suggestions can come from anyone you mention your story idea to.) This person will at least explain parts to you and show you how it relates to your novel. So the time wasted is somewhat worthwhile – you’ll have to decide that for yourself.
- An Accountability Partner – Like in most cases this phrase is used, the accountability partner will check in on you and see how things are going. What’s important for this person to keep in mind is that there shouldn’t be a bunch of hate on you if you didn’t meet your goals on time or even an over abundance of praise when you do – that will come from you biggest fan. This partner needs to be there for updates and encourage you along no matter what your outcomes. They should be a helpful listening ear – or two – and offer suggestions to your plan of action. Okay so you failed at trying to write for an hour a day. Maybe you should drop the time and/or frequency down to make the goal more attainable. Or if you are doing well with your goals, they can suggest upping the bar and challenging yourself.
And those are my top important people. I could throw in other non-creative friends who encourage your dream along but they should be doing that anyway in my opinion. Notice that I don’t have any negative people in here. Not even your critic should be completely negative about your work without suggesting ways to improve your writing as a whole or the piece specifically. There should be no room left for negative people when you surround yourself with people like the ones I’ve mentioned.
Incidentally, I’ve noticed that my mom fits the description for a few of these. Thanks Mom! 🙂
Do you have any others to add?