Why You Need a Writing Buddy

People think writing has to be a solitary affair. I thought so, too, for a long time. But you know what’s so much better than doing it alone? Having a writing buddy. Some people call them critique partners, but it’s so much more than that if you find the right person.

Writing buddies are a beautiful thing. You get a critique partner, but also someone who you can just talk to about your book or short stories or novellas or whatever it is you’re working on. It isn’t the same, trying to talk about your book with someone who might not actually be interested or who may not understand. And, of course, there’s the fear that you’ll annoy someone if you talk about it too much, but that’s not an issue with your writing buddy, because ideally, they’re as into the book as you are.

With a writing buddy you have someone you can bounce ideas off. You have someone who can give you unsolicited advice that you didn’t know you needed until she suggests it. You have someone rooting for your work and asking for more. It’s a great feeling to see “Ready for moreeeeee” at the ends of feedback emails. Even better is hearing that they’re having fun reading the 738-page book they’re beta-reading for you, because “it’s almost like a reread cuz I already know the story and the world, so it’s just comforting.” You have someone who not only looks forward to your work but whose work you look forward to reading in return. Maybe you can even buddy-read books with them because you’re basically the same person and so, of course, you enjoy the same books.

A writing buddy like that, who has also become a dear friend, is invaluable and a literal blessing. They’re someone who can urge you to write when you’re not feeling like it, someone who can help keep you accountable or also acknowledge that, no, sometimes it’s okay to take a break and take that nap you’re just really wanting to take. I know a lot of people say they write for themselves, and sure, I do, too. I wouldn’t be writing the stories I am if I wasn’t interested in reading them myself, but you know what else is nice? Having someone to share those stories with that’s excited about them. And they make you feel like, oh, maybe I don’t entirely suck, and maybe my work is worth the time and effort put into it.

I decided, partially, to get my Master’s because I wanted to surround myself with other writers, but I somehow never expected to actually find a friend that I would end up talking to literally daily. So, thank you a thousand times over to my writing buddy’s partner for pushing her to message me. I will be eternally grateful to you always.

Now go check out her website, because the trilogy she’s working on is amazing. And also, her post about writing buddies here, because naturally we organized posting these at the same time ;).


What I wrote over the last week

Inserted two more chapters into The Children of Oher, because apparently I just can’t stop expanding this book.

What I’m reading right now

Blood Sworn by Scott Reintgen

The Last Revision by Sandra Scofield

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

And finished Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer yesterday

But can we talk about those covers? And yes, I absolutely did buy Blood Sworn before I even started Ashlords, because that cover.

Revising

“The process of doing your second draft is the process of making it look like you knew what you were doing all along.”

– Neil Gaiman

I know a lot of people who moan and complain and say they hate revising, and I can absolutely see where they’re coming from. It’s tedious. It’s frustrating.  It’s a pain to have to restructure, cut entire chunks, remove entire characters or merge two because you realize you don’t need both of them. It’s particularly annoying when you get to rereading the same chapter for the seventh time, and you’re just tired of reading it again and again. It’s even worse when you end up entirely rewriting two-thirds of your book. Twice. And then realize you’ve got to remove 100,000 words, because it got wildly out of control during the last revision, and you’re cursing your past self.

Revising can be the worst, but also, I’m actively looking forward to revising the second Enorians book and later this year, giving the first another edit, too. During my final quarter of my Master’s Program, I got really bummed, because I missed writing about Rowan and Aurea and Vivian and all the other characters from the first and second books. I ended up writing a bunch of scenes just for the fun of it, and it was amazing to go back to them.

So while revising can be a pain, it means I get to spend time with those characters again, characters I’ve been missing for the last few months. Not just that, it gives me a chance to do those characters justice, to fix the bits of them and their stories that aren’t great yet, to take out things that don’t fit, to make them and the story better. It gives me a chance to fill in missing details and explore everything again. It gives me more time with my favorite characters. Characters that I know I’ll miss when all is finally finished, because I’ve been writing these people for years, and I love them. If you look at revising as a way to spend more time with the people you’ve created and care so deeply about, it’s really not so bad.


What I wrote over the last week

Chapters twelve, thirteen, and fourteen of The Children of Oher.

What I’m reading right now

The Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir

Red Dust and Dancing Horses by Beth Cato

What Inspires Us?

We all have different things that inspire us, but I guess the question I’m really asking is where do our ideas for stories come from? I’m sure everyone has a different system of coming up with stories. Some might take moments from life and write a story based around those. Others might see a picture and create a story to go along with it. There are hundreds, probably thousands of writing prompts on the internet to leap off from. In Zen in the Art of Writing Ray Bradbury talks about writing lists of nouns, and he’d end up writing stories based on those words. In a class I took during my final quarter at Lindenwood, we had to randomly select numbers that would give us our starting character(s) and the first sentence that would be our jumping off point. And from there we were to come up with a novella idea. A whole novella idea with a plot outline and everything. I thought for sure the professor was nuts. It’s amazing what can come out of something as simple as: Woman and girl (child) & “The grass had grown knee high.” I now have not a novella idea, but rather, a novel idea, because I’m terrible at keeping anything short.

Besides that, I only have a few specific memories of things that have inspired me or where specific stories came from.

I don’t know where the original idea for the enorians came from. I just know it all started in high school when my friends and I were passing notebooks back and forth between class and roleplaying in them. The only really specific moment of inspiration I remember related to the Enorians Saga was when I was in Scotland. Our whole study abroad class took a trip to the Isle of Skye, and we went to see Old Man of Storr.

It was windy to begin with, but it just became all the more intense the farther up the hill we hiked (or more like struggled, panting the whole way). With the hovering fog and the wind nearly blowing us off the mountain, I made a joke to my friends about how it was actually just wind spirits protecting the rock and trying to stop us from getting too close because it was actually a portal to another world. And thus, the portal to Enoralori was born.

Funnily enough, some of my other ideas have spawned from dreams. If you read the blog post about my mom, you’ll know the short story I wrote about the girl getting a phone call from her dead mom came from a dream I had, where my mom called me.

The novel (which grew from a short story to a novella to now a novel… whoops) I’m currently working on – The Children of Oher – also came from a dream. I dreamed that I was being forced to marry some guy I didn’t know by this cult, but really he didn’t want to marry me, either, because he was in love with his best friend. And even within the dream, I looked at the person next to me, and went “This would be a good idea for a story.” And now here we are, writing that story.

And, of course, I have to mention where “Spirits of the Sea” came from. I saw a video on facebook of Dutch people riding their draft horses down to the sea and I loved it so much I immediately went, “I have to put this in a book somewhere.” I ended up turning it into a fantasy short story, which morphed into a novel idea, because of course it did.

The one other specific memory I have of inspiration happened last year before we went to Belize. Our friends told us it would be a good idea to get a base tan before we went, since we were going in November, and the sun there is pretty intense. So I did that, and one day while I was lying in the tanning bed, I thought about how nice and warm it was. And an idea for a character popped into my head. A woman who used tanning as a way to relax after a hard day of work. It turned into some kind of weird body horror thing, because apparently that’s something I can write, I guess. I haven’t actually finished that story yet, but it exists in a half-finished state.

I also think it’s interesting to consider what inspires us in the sense of the types of things we create. I can’t seem to steer away from fantasy, nor do I really have any desire to, and I know for certain that’s because my love of reading all started with Harry Potter and has only continued to be fueled by fantasy since. I think that’s also the reason why most of my writing somehow tends to involve monsters and battles, despite that I actually hate writing battles haha. And, of course, there has to be some kind of love or romance aspect in every story, because I’m always a sucker for a love story. The enorians gods came into being after I took a Greek Mythology class during college, and while the gods themselves aren’t based on any specific gods, the idea of enorians having numerous gods came from Greek Mythology.

It’s funny. I worried in the past that I would run out of ideas. I wondered how authors could just keep coming up with new concepts, and now I’m sitting here with six books I want to write for the Enorians Saga and one prequel-type novella/novel to go along with that. I’ve got The Children of Oher I’m working on, and four more book ideas beyond those. So I guess it’s safe to say I probably won’t run out of ideas anytime soon. And hopefully if I ever do, the inspiration fairy will find me in my dreams.


What I Wrote Over the Last Week

Chapters two and three of The Children of Oher

What I’m Reading Right Now

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Horsemanship Through Life: A Trainer’s Guide to Better Living and Better Riding by Mark Rashid