The Benefits of Writer Friends

From Publishers Weekly:

I’ve never been particularly great at making friends. As a woman with both ADHD and autism, small talk is hard, and reading social cues is even harder. I tend to either overshare or clam up entirely, and both have led to plenty of awkward moments that felt mortifying at the time but give me a good laugh when I look back at them. Adolescence was challenging, and masking my neurodivergence always left me exhausted, but taking off that mask and embracing neurodivergent info dumping about special interests and my directness with my peers often left me on the outskirts of social circles. My best friends in middle and high school were the characters in the books I devoured.

. . . .

I wrote, queried, and went on submission with my debut novel, A Brush with Love, without knowing anyone else who had endured the process—who could share useful strategies or advise what to expect and what questions to ask. Navigating the emotional roller coaster of the process without someone to commiserate with was tough.

As authors, our careers are steeped in vulnerability. We must be soft enough to create yet tough enough to take criticism, and then brave enough to try again. It’s an isolating journey, and one I was quickly feeling burned out from without any writer friends to lean on.

But I didn’t know where to start with finding them. I think a part of me—the awkward tween who never quite fit in anywhere—had clutched on to the hope that friends would find me, that I could be a passive bystander in developing the friendships I so greatly craved.

. . . .

So, one day, with a glass of wine providing liquid courage and absolutely zero couth, I made it a mission to actually do something to make a friend. It was as simple, albeit terrifying, as telling an author how much I loved their work and that I’d like to be their friend if they were open to it.

Can you believe that actually worked?! Because sometimes I can’t. I had no idea being direct and honest—something that had so often made me a weirdo among my peers—could allow me to form some of the most fulfilling friendships I’ve ever had.

By being vulnerable and getting out of my own way, I’ve found that other writers are also looking for that connection. We spend weeks, months, years pouring our souls into our pages, holding our hearts in the tips of our fingertips as we craft our characters and story only to rework it, restructure it, experience the highs of it being loved, and the crushing lows of it being torn apart. Being able to share all those feelings with someone who gets it—really gets it—has both taught me skills and brought me unexpected joy.

The most important aspect of cultivating these bonds is making friends simply for the joy of the relationship, not for what transactional benefit someone else can provide. One doesn’t need an endless stream of bestselling authors texting them or tweeting about their work to make the publishing experience meaningful. I’ve learned that opening up and being vulnerable with others can create a safe space for everyone to be their truest self. And that’s where the real fun begins. Whether it’s a single person or an entire group, finding friends in the chaos of publishing carries with it endless opportunities to laugh, to cry, to cheer someone’s big wins or show solidarity in the group chat when someone experiences anxiety or disappointment.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

4 thoughts on “The Benefits of Writer Friends”

  1. I would go absolutely bonkers without my online writer friends for support. I have no writer friends in real life – and my original writing partner in New Jersey is now living in Vermont (I’m in California).

    We don’t write in the same genres, but we all know the problems and rewards.

    Writing is exactly like having a rare disease.

      • You’re welcome – as far as I know, it’s original, meaning I haven’t seen it anywhere else.

        But these are the days where people with the rare diseases find each other and support online, and even medical researchers, and are not alone with their ‘problem’ any more.

        And of course some of those diseases are cured that way, or at least better treatments found, including one in our family (I’ve used the analogy on my own blog: when you hear hoofbeats, think okapi (much rarer than horses or zebras)).

        Writing is not curable; the treatment is – to write it out. 🙂

  2. Yup, I can vouch for that. In addition to my regular blog on writing, I’ve written over 200 short stories and I’m working on my 67th novel. I enjoy sharing clever comments with my readers.

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