It’s easy to see other writers as a threat. After all, there are only so many agents, only so many readers, only so much money people are willing to spend. It’s true that there is stiff competition for these things, as there should be, but isolating yourself out of jealousy or preciousness isn’t going to reduce it. It’s only going to make it harder to surmount. I’m not a naturally social person. ‘Friend of my friend’ means very little to me usually. I don’t usually seek out additional friendships because I’m fine the way I am. However, since changing my mindset about writing I’ve made an effort to change that because making friends with other writers is one of the best things you can do.
Discovering I was not the only ‘writer girl’ in my year was more of a surprise than it should have been. Everyone likes to feel special, whether they admit it or not, and at first, I felt a pressure to not only be a good writer but to be the ‘best’ writer in my year. This made me anxious, overly critical of my own work and just generally took the joy out of writing. It was only once I realised the other girls who write neither knew about my imaginary contest nor would care at all if they did that I saw how silly it was to feel this way. They were not rivals. They were potential allies. It was this seemingly obvious realisation that changed how I think about other writers and transformed my solitary hobby into a community.
Want to know why?
- Nobody likes a loner. If you’re on social media but only ever promote yourself with no sign of being involved with the community, it’s hardly going to look good for you.
- Keep up with trends. It’s a lot better to listen to what fellow writers are talking about to get a feel for how things are going than to spend hours researching it yourself.
- Receive help. Writers can be the loveliest people in the world at times and everyone I know has always been happy to share anything that might help others.
- Give help (and learn in the process) I’ve been told that the best way to understand something is to teach it. Helping others, whether it be advising them on social media or critiquing their writing will help you develop your own skills and understanding.
- Motivation. It’s okay to have some rivalry with your writing friends if it inspires you both to keep going. But you can also rely on your friends to keep you going when you’re unsure, no matter if you’re doubting a side character’s name or your entire book.
- It’ll fun. Writing friends are the best. It’s great having people you can ask whatever weird questions you want without sounding terrifying, who understand all the little trials and tribulations writing puts us through and overall, genuinely want you to succeed. Writers love seeing their friends do well and once you’ve made some good friends you’ll wonder how you ever did without.
If you’re reading this then there’s a good chance you’ve already got writing buddies but it’s always good to stop and appreciate the people around us. Maybe if you know any new writers you could introduce them to your friends and get them involved in the community. Maybe you could join a critique partner site to meet some more people yourself. The writing community online is a wonderful place and I wish I’d known about it sooner, but now I’m here I’m determined to make the most of it.