I used to think I could go it alone as a writer.
As a matter of fact, I preferred it that way. I wanted to rely on myself alone, not bother anyone, not need anyone to get involved. I was doing fine with this philosophy for years. I wrote and edited and rewrote all on my own, bumping along in a quiet, solitary manner, sending stories and poems to literary magazines, receiving rejections, jumping up and down with my beloved cat whenever an editor wrote me a note or I won a contest.
“What does this mean? Are you famous yet?” my husband would sometimes tease.
He isn’t a writer, so I forgave him. But the fact remained: I wasn’t taking any sizable steps forward in my writing career.
Fast-Forward to the Present
I was lucky enough to stumble upon a writing partner in 2019—her name is Tricia. Since then, my go-it-alone mindset has made a 180. Our association started as a client-professional relationship that quickly segued into a writer friendship. To date, we have beta-read each other’s novels, helped each other with various marketing pieces, shared all sorts of knowledge and information, and supported each other on the unpredictable journey called “the road to publication.”
Today I feel very strongly that everyone needs a Tricia in their life. Not only because she has become a close friend, but because we all need a person to brainstorm with and ask questions of and get advice from. Someone who listens to your failures and your worries and your trials and tribulations—and shares theirs, as well. A friend to inspire you to take those big steps forward and to celebrate your small wins without asking whether you’re famous yet.
A fellow writer is really the only kind of person who will totally get your introverted, borderline hermit lifestyle; your publishing dreams and nightmares; the need for continuous creative energy to complete a novel or collection of short stories or poems or essays—in other words, your drive to get the work done.
It Can Be Anyone
This writer friend doesn’t have to partake in your genre or be your age or live in your state. They don’t even have to be in the same point in their writing journey. You might be on the brink of publishing a novel, and they’re learning how to better use POV. You might meet at a conference or at an online forum. They might start out as a beta reader, and, before you know it, you’re emailing each other every day about copyediting issues and how your children don’t respect the “Come back at 5 p.m.” sign hung outside your door.
Tricia helped me gain the confidence I needed to publish my book. She made me realize that this was something I wanted to do and that I could do—and should do. If I had still been the lonely, isolated writer I used to be, my novel would to this day remain a Word file itching to escape the confines of my computer.
Seven Benefits of Having a Writing Partner
1. Someone to check in with on a daily basis via email. Someone to ask what you are up to. Whether you are the sender or receiver, a simple question like this makes you say: What am I up to? Am I using my time wisely? When was the last time I wrote something, posted something on Instagram, put my goals down on paper? Also, emails are better than phone calls. Phone calls too easily spiral out of five-minute territory into half-an-hour-or-longer territory. That’s not what you want on a daily basis.
2. Someone to ask how so-and-so app or technology works. If you’re like me, you don’t know everything about apps and social media. Two are better than one when learning all there is to know about the technology involved in platform-building and promotion.
3. Someone to read for you. If you’re self-publishing or sending queries to agents, there will be a million and one times when you need to ask a fellow writer if something sounds good or makes sense. Trust me, having a friend out there to answer quick questions is invaluable.
4. Someone to assure you that you’re not a loser. Even if your story gets rejected or you “lose” a contest you really, really thought you might have a shot at winning.
5. Someone to preview your reviews. I read my own reviews because I can’t stop myself, but I’d probably be better off letting Tricia do it. When a new review has been posted, you can text your writing partner, and she can scan the review. She can tell you it’s great and that you should read it right away, or she can tell you the person who wrote it is a jerk who has no business critiquing books.
6. Someone to promote for you. Nobody likes a writer who shouts, “Buy my book!” or “Look how great I am!” You need a cheerleader on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your writing partner can be yours, and you can be hers.
7. Someone to remind you that you love writing. Things will not always go as planned (that’s a given), and you’ll appreciate the kind voice that says, “It’s okay. Tomorrow is another day. Remember last week when that great thing happened for you? Don’t worry, you’ll get where you want to go.”
Perhaps the greatest thing about having a writing partner is the “getting it” factor. You’re both going through the process, sometimes in a highly emotional way, but not exactly at the same time. You know how great it is to be “up” and how lonely and degrading it can feel to be “down.” You both need support when self-esteem wanes. When one of you is down, there’s a good chance the other will be in a good (or, at least, okay) place and can help pull the other out of the muck. When one of you takes a step in the right direction—whether being named a finalist in a contest, receiving a kind letter from an agent, or hitting the bestseller list—you can both celebrate the victory genuinely.
Kim Catanzarite is a freelance writer and editor who teaches copyediting courses for Writer's Digest University. Her sci-fi thriller, They Will Be Coming for Us, published to strong positive reviews in June 2021. You can subscribe to her blog at authorkimcatanzarite.com/blog.