Tuesday, August 14, 2012

3 Reasons Why You Need a Writing Support Team

Having a writing partner doesn't just keep you on track, it's a lot of fun as well!

Last week I wrote about the importance of having a core group of writers to help combat issues with Writers Isolation. This week I'd like to talk about accountability partners. Whether found in the form of a critique group, a single friend you meet up with regularly for "coffee dates," or through an online forum, I've discovered three vital reasons for having a writing support team:

Having a writing support team keeps you focused

I have a mind that wanders worse than a puppy set loose in a 5-acre fenceless field. I stare at the sky. I stare at the grass. I think lots of thoughts. I have lots of ideas I want to do something with, and sometimes I get so wrapped up in the planning stage it kills my productivity. I've written in the past that I found an accountability partner in my friend Xochi; we share in what's happening in nearly every aspect of our lives, but most importantly we know we can safely confide in each other about our writing ups and downs.

One of the things I love the most about our friendship is that when she reads through my work she's not afraid to lovingly call me out when I meander down a rabbit trail. Without telling me what to do to fix it she'll point out where I got off track, suggest passages to reconsider, and offer up a couple tips that, after I mull them over a bit, get me moving in the right direction again.

Having a writing support team keeps you moving forward

Ultimately, the only person responsible for getting you to sit down and finish what you've started is yourself, but it sure helps to have someone to bounce ideas off of — and when necessary, keep you on task. Xochi and I try to set aside some time every week to bring each other up to speed about what's going on. Her first question to me is always the same: How's the book project coming? How's the blog?

We both understand that life gets pretty hectic at times. This past year I've worked a number of odd jobs doing everything from leading a middle school and high school youth group, caregiving, and more recently working the breakfast shift and helping with housekeeping duties at a local river lodge to make ends meet. Xochi's a wife, the mother of a teenaged boy, and a student working towards her Masters. There are days we forget we're both writers as well, and if we want to continue being writers, we have to write.

Having a writing support team challenges you as an individual

I tend to hover on the more introverted side of the personality spectrum, which unfortunately means I hold back in my writing as well. Xochi is the opposite. Since I've started working with her I've found a new boldness that has gone beyond writing and bled into other aspects of my life as well. It was because of her encouragement that I started looking into the Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference last winter (and thanks to my sister, I was able to attend this past spring). With a little tough love from Xochi (and many others) I stepped out of my comfort zone and pitched my book to both an editor and an agent while I was there. 

Later, when I didn't think I had it in me to sit at my desk every day to finish the aforementioned book re-write and proposal for the editor and agent, Xochi was there with little care packages, lots of encouraging words, and when needed, some brutally honest ones as well. I'm still waiting to hear back on my proposals, but Xochi has been keeping me motivated to continue working on new projects (and hold onto my sanity) in the meantime.

What does your writing support group look like? And if you haven't found one yet, what prevents you from reaching out to someone? 

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