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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

5 Friends That Every Writer Needs

The writing life is not easy. We spend our days isolated, niggling over sentiments and sentences ad infinitum. We send our work out again and again, often getting no response in return. How crazy is it that in our world getting an actual rejection — at least some recognition for your effort — feels like a success? I’ve discovered a secret weapon, though, that has made my writing life much more comfortable and yet, inspired. It’s my network of friends. Knowing I have this particular configuration of people in my life helps me every time I put word to page.

1. The Friend Who is Willing to Troll the Troll

When I was published on Scary Mommy, I was terrified I would receive all sorts of nasty comments. In my article, I’d taken a stand against locker room talk and imagined trolls telling me to lighten up. When I told my friend Katie my concern, she replied that she already picked her alias and thought through the vicious retorts she would unleash on the imagined rabble-rousers. I feel less afraid to take on tough topics, knowing that she has my back.

2. The Loud Mouth Who Shares Your Work to Everyone They Know

I’ve got a couple of these in my court. The funniest are single friends who share my parenting pieces with their mainly young and single crowd. I’ve also been known to use some salty language in my writing and it gave me great joy to see my more clean-cut friends share the piece where I used about 15 different nicknames for male genitalia. Again, it’s so much easier to take on something challenging or even embarrassing when you know you have a few built-in fans.

3. The Friend (or Family Member) Who “Likes” Your Work Despite Their Opposing Political Views

Political conversations in my family-of-origin have never been easy or fun for me. They’ve gotten downright unpleasant since the 2016 election. I’ve unloaded on the current administration in my work and it gave me great joy to see that my family’s pride in my success topped their disagreement with my message. In these divisive times, it’s buoying.

4. The Friend Who Tells You the Truth No Matter What

My friend Michelle is a diligent and successful writer, who I admire. But I rely on her for advice because she listened to me moan to her for the hundredth time about a family memoir piece that wasn’t working and then looked me dead in the eyes and said, “That piece just isn’t memoir. You’d get much further with it as historical fiction.” After I pulled myself up off the floor and could breathe again, I realized she was right. The people who will tell you the things you don’t want to hear are worth their weight in gold.

5. The Friend Who Pushes You to Dig Deeper

I realized that I need to confer with my friend Sarah early in my writing process if I don’t want to end up wringing her neck. Multiple times, I’ve sent her pieces to review that I felt were pretty close to finished. Without fail, she found some logic mis-step, or structure issue that caused me to re-think the whole piece. That said, the forced last minute reviews have always lead to stronger pieces.


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