Writing collaboratively can be a fantastic experience. However, you don’t necessarily need to work on the same project with someone to benefit from having a writing partner. Rather than team up with another writer to produce a joint story, script or series of articles, why not use their knowledge and experience to better your own work? And, of course, you can do likewise for them.
Because I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, writing can be a solitary pursuit. Rather than lurk in the shadows of your study for hours, days or weeks on end, find yourself a writing partner instead. Develop a good working relationship another writer and reap the rewards.
Why do I need a writing partner?
Good question. You might not need a writing partner. If you’re able to write a novel or churn out blog articles without the slightest dip in quality or any editorial guidance, that’s just brillio.
Seriously, top work. Some people love the introspective side of the writing process and can produce high-quality work consistently. And that's great. However, it doesn’t apply to everyone.
A lot of writers need some form of guidance, whether it’s basic editorial help or problems related to confidence and motivation. We get incredibly close to our work and it can be tough to find that guidance from within.
A writing partner helps to take the pressure off. They provide both practical advice and an outlet for your ideas and frustrations. It’s a real commitment from both parties, but a good partnership can help you to take your writing to the next level.
It can even be the difference between completing a project and abandoning it mid-flight.
Finding ‘the one’ – the three Ts
I know some writers who have had the same writing partner for several years, but my experience with partners has typically been project-specific. Basically, see what works best for you. But don’t stick with the same writing partner if the relationship isn’t helping your writing.
When trying to find a partner, I think that there are three criteria thatmnust be met. Conveniently, they all begin with the letter ‘T’.
When you have a writing partner, you have to put your faith in their judgement. That doesn’t mean you have to go with every amend or suggestion that they give you, but you should trust them enough to know that any critique is done with thought and careful consideration.
Likewise, if you’re providing feedback or emotional support for another writer, you’re in a position of genuine responsibility. Don’t let the partnership down by abusing that trust. You only get what you give, as they say.
You have to enter the relationship with agreed expectations and work together to make sure that you’re both getting what you need out of it. You have to be able to trust your writing partner. It’s essential.
The most practical of the three Ts and arguably the most important. Before you agree to working with a writing partner, you need to know that the other person has the time to commit fully.
This is particularly relevant if you’re working to deadlines. The last thing you want is to be relying on your partner to proofread your work the week of submission, only to find that they’ve not got the time or resources to give you the support you need.
To avoid this happening, you need to agree how much time each of you is expected to invest in the partnership from the outset. Don’t get caught out by not establishing the finer details of your relationship.
Sometimes the easy option is to share your work with a friend or family member. I’d say that unless that friend or family member is a working writer, or at a similar stage to you in their writing career, don’t bother.
You wouldn’t ask them to fix your pipes (so to speak) unless they were qualified, so don’t ask them for detailed feedback on your writing unless they know what they’re doing.
You can only benefit from a writing partner if their support, technical or otherwise, is of a high quality. If you find that you disagree with all of their suggestions, the partnership isn’t working.
Similarly, if you don’t enjoy or believe in your partner’s writing, you might want to try someone else. The process should be positive, a pleasure even, so don’t get held back by a lack of talent. Harsh, I know. But true.
Where to find your writing partner
So, you’ve decided you need a writing partner, but you’ve no idea where to find one. Here are just a few suggestions. Please feel free to expand on this list in the comments section.
A postgraduate writing course
I use this example first because it’s where I met and worked with other writers the most. Postgraduate writing courses are expensive, but you know that your classmates will be like-minded and committed to the cause. Also, having been through a strict vetting process to get on the course, they should also know what they’re talking about.
Writing groups are all around us. Google 'writing groups' in your local area and see what you find. Hopefully, they’ll have a website and contact information.
Popular over recent years, there are many writing-related forums on the web. I’m a member over at the Editor Unleashed forum, although I’ve not used it for partner purposes, I must admit. And yes, I need to post more.
Yup, turns out social networking does have real-life benefits. Truth is, there are writers talking to each other and teaming up every day through social networks. Twitter is the place to be at the moment, but there are other networks to look at, including LinkedIn, Virb and of course, Facebook.
A one-off course is a great way of improving your craft and learning new skills. However, it’s also a fantastic way to meet other writers. In the UK, there are the Arvon Foundation courses, or you can even pack your bags and head for the sun on a writing break, like the one offered by Joanna Young from Confident Writing.
Potentially, a long shot this one. But if you’re part of a book group, there might well be a closet scribe amongst you that you weren’t aware of. It’s up to you to seek ‘em out.
It’s worth reiterating, writing partners aren’t for everyone. However, you never know until you try these things. I’ve benefited hugely in the past from having someone there to check my work and keep me going. Give it a try – you might have a similar experience.