Writing is often not only difficult, but also solitary. Writers shut themselves in home offices, hole up in rural writers' retreats like mountain men, and huddle over laptops at Starbucks with surly glances directed towards anyone who dares approach and ask if they are going to use that other chair. Writers often want to just be left ALONE to create their works of genius, left undisturbed until they emerge from their self-induced inky fog like a butterfly from a chrysalis, ready to fan out their words for the world to see (and hopefully praise). For example, right now I'm blogging during a break from an arduous first draft, while the Husband engages his inner child in a rousing round of Lord-of-the-Rings-something-or-other-video-game on the
(Our Friday nights aren't always this wild and crazy, I swear.)
However, a little earlier tonight I took a break from the isolated, antisocial finger-cramping to call a very dear friend -a fellow writer, to boot - and catch up on our latest projects, both on and off the page. It was, to use a slew of adjectives: delightful, freeing, hilarious, emotional, encouraging, and fulfilling. She buoyed my spirit with constructive feedback for my finished manuscript, which she had recently read, and we discussed writing processes, plot mapping, and character development. We also talked about work, family plans, and that all-important "girl stuff" that friends can share no matter the distance. Talking with a friend who faces what I face as a writer - and who knows me well enough to mix writing conversation and friend conversation - is more than rejuvenating; it's inspiring.
So, my humble suggestion tonight for fellow writers is this: if you haven't already got one, find yourself a writer friend. Find someone you rather adore; who knows your strengths and weaknesses as a writer and doesn't hold back from pointing them out to you; who gets your sense of humor and your writing style; and who knows when to play idea-racquetball and when to say, "And how's everything else going with you?" Trade work with them. It's encouraging in itself to know that you've helped someone you care about to become a stronger writer. Plus, editing someone else's work, particularly if their strengths and weaknesses complement yours, will make you into a stronger writer, too.
Writing is tough, and it can be lonely, but you don't have to go it alone. You can still barricade yourself away from the world for hours or days to engage your creative genius... but a writer friend can be your bridge between You the Writer and You the Everyday human. A good writer friend can keep you focused, accountable, and (yes) inspired.
People say that, in the publishing industry, it's not about what you know, but who(m) you know. This is just as true when you're writing a book as when you're trying to sell it.