As I have mentioned before, I wrote my first novel at a young age. As in, I still liked boy bands and thought glitter was an acceptable thing to put on my face and arms. By the time I graduated college, I had written three full manuscripts. I was able to do this while juggling school work, extracurricular activities, and an active social work. To be honest, I was busier then than I am now.
How on earth did I finish three novels when I had the siren call of college parties or high school pep rallies (okay, the pep rallies were never appealing, but you get the idea)?
My friend, Maria*.
No, Maria is not a writing superhero or a muse (as we have established, mine looks like James Dean).
She was just a friend of mine that shared a lot of classes with me in high school.
How did she help me?
I sent a new chapter to her every few weeks. If I didn’t send her a chapter in a reasonable timeframe, she would send me an e-mail begging me to write more so she could find out what happened next.
Writing block wasn’t really a thing when Maria was reading my work. It seemed self-indulgent when I knew someone was waiting to find out if Arthur survived that fight or if Elizabeth ended up with Clay. When I was accountable to someone else, being stuck just didn’t seem like an option. I learned to write whether I felt like it or not.
Maria was an important part of my creative process. If she felt one character were underdeveloped, I would make sure to spend more time developing him or her in future chapters. She also gave me the encouragement to carry on by praising the parts that I did well.
Now, you cannot just pick someone at random to be your writing partner. You don’t want to be Ted Mosby (thinking that anyone that breathes is “the one”).
Here are some criteria to consider:
*The person is reliable. This may seem obvious, but it is a trait people often forget. Life gets busy, but your writing partner must prioritize your writing. Now, this doesn’t give you an excuse to be as diva as Miss Piggy. Life does happen. Still, you need a partner who will be consistent and dependable.
*The person is honest. It is no good if the person will tell you everything is great, even if he or she sees a major plot hole or doesn’t care about your romantic lead. You will want someone who will tell you the truth in a constructive way. Which leads us to…
*The person must be kind. An inconsiderate or rude comment can be crushing. Make sure your writing partner knows how to deliver bad news in a considerate way. Also, make sure he or she can give you the encouragement that you need.
*The person must have similar tastes in books as you do. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same, but he or she must like and be well-versed in the genre you are writing in. It will not be productive if you partner hates YA if you are writing a YA book.
*You have to like the person. I know it sounds crazy that I have to state this, but you would be surprised by how many people dislike his or her writing partner. If you don’t enjoy spending time with or hearing from your partner, you will not have the motivation you need to get your book finished.
Are you looking for your Maria? I would be happy to be your Maria. In my Novel Treatment package, we spend six months together to make sure your novel gets completed. You have two monthly calls with me, unlimited e-mail support, and I look over 12,000 words a month! I promise that, if you put in the work, you will have a gorgeous book by the end of our time together. Have questions about working with me? Hit reply, and I can hook you up with a free 15-minute call.
*Names have been changed to protect the awesome.