The Smart Writer’s Secret Weapon

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Don’t let anyone fool you. Writing is not the easiest way to make a living.

Whether you’re chipping away at the next great American novel, hustling features and op eds for the regional mags, or hopping on the content marketing bandwagon, even your best days usually include some amount of grunt work and drudgery. As my witty friend Heidi is fond of saying, “We’re just toiling away in the word mines.”

Indeed, Heidi, indeed.

And there’s only one thing that can brighten your darkest hour, down there in the bowels of the word mines – only one thing that can save you after you’ve spent a day slogging through the fifth round of revisions because your client or editor “just isn’t feeling it” … only one thing that can bring your writer’s heart back to life after it’s been put through the wringer by a hard day at the keyboard with no measure of external gratitude or even acknowledgement … only one thing that can make you smile in spite of the lamentable state of the English language and the fools who seem intent on murdering it each day – over and over again

One thing. The smart writer’s secret weapon: Writer friends.

Yes.

Because misery loves company, and miserable writers are actually a riot.

Because all writers are a little crazy, and crazy likes crazy.

Because the world may not always smile with you, but another writer will always snicker with you.

As I type this, it’s 11:27 PM. I was up until 1AM last night writing a feature article for my local paper. I am tired and punchy and a little cranky. I didn’t get to all my deadlines today, which means when I wake up tomorrow I will have to face the same legion of spiteful, gloating demons who were waiting for me at my desk this morning.  I hate that.

I’ve been a card-carrying, word-wrangling ink slinger for going on six years now. I’ve done all kinds of work for all kinds of people. I’ve cleared many a hurdle (with a modicum of grace), but I have also spent way too many sleepless nights crawling towards the finish line, begging for mercy. As a freelancer, I’ve enjoyed the freedom of being my own boss and the annoyance of having to chase clients for money. I’ve felt the high of a job well done and the low of being triple booked and having nowhere to hide. I’ve been up and down and sideways. I’ve been inside out and upside down.

But, I’ve never been alone.

Nope. I will never end up a sad, writer stereotype – frittering my life away in a windowless garret with my fingerless gloves, fifth of scotch, and a Dickensian oil lamp. You know why not? Because I have writer friends. I have writer friends who lift me up out of the darkness and make me laugh. I have writer friends who can make the hours between 10PM and midnight a joy … even if I’m working. I have writer friends who feel my pain and help me celebrate my joy … who never judge, and who always (always!) have my back.

Writing is often called a “solitary pursuit.” Poppycock. Sure, only you can put fingers to keyboard or pull the pen across the page, but you don’t have to go it alone. Though each of us has a unique and individual journey ahead, there’s no reason we can’t travel the road side-by-side. Don’t you think a little writerly camaraderie would make the trip that much more enjoyable?

It does and it always will.

So, if you don’t have some already, go out and find yourself some writer friends. They can be “real life” friends or Facebook friends or anything in between. Just find them. Reach out and connect. Share stories. Share successes. Share hopes and fears and secrets and jokes. Support each other. Be kind to each other. Teach each other. Enjoy each other

With writer friends, you are invincible. There will never be a darkness deep enough to keep your spirit down.

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of voice and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

36 thoughts on “The Smart Writer’s Secret Weapon

    • So glad you find it so. I hope you have or can find a circle of great writer friends. 🙂

  1. I always thought that Simone de Beauvoir was a solitary scribbler. Imagine my surprise when I read that de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Satre scribbled together at the same café (they were a couple) and later held court there. That obviously puts paid to the myth of writing being a lonely job that can only be done in isolation. Having ‘writerly’ friends to bounce ideas off and discuss issues with must be fabulous. But I have no writer friends and I prefer to work on my own (although preferably not in a garret). Enjoy your writer friends, wish I had some.

    • I never knew that about Simone and Jean Paul. Fascinating.
      Glad you’re not in a garret, and I hope you do find some writer friends to share the journey. Meantime, you’re always welcome (of course) to hang out here!

    • Hey, beautiful! Me neither. In fact, just as I was reading your comment, I began to wonder if maybe the reason I write is so I get to hang out with the super interesting, smart, and funny writers I know. Perhaps writing is less about the outcome and more about the way it draws certain groups of people together.

      Whoa.
      I think I need a cuppa something.
      😉

  2. Thank you for this post! My writer-friend keeps me sane. She lovingly nudges me to write when it’s painful and she encourages me when no one else does. If I never get published, I will always be thankful for my audience of one.

  3. Very true! I’ve never felt more stable in the writing world than when I was huddling in a virtual corner with a group of fellow writers during NaNoWriMo. It’s the comraderie that keeps you going when things get low and you start to consider eating your work. 🙂

    • Mmmmm … tasty words. 😉
      YES.
      The camaraderie is key. There is community in writing. After all, we write to connect with others – to share ideas – to explore what it means to be human – to make a difference.
      I’m so lucky to have such a great group of writer friends. If it weren’t for them, I’d be much more likely to consider throwing in the towel; but – in their company, I am inspired.

    • I agree. There are so many ways that the Internet has enriched the day-to-day lives of writers. Most of my writer friends are “online” friends. We connect through Facebook groups and Twitter and so forth. Though I love real world get togethers as well, it’s so nice to be able to hop onto a digital platform at any hour of the day and have someone to talk to.

  4. I agree with you. I have met many writers since I began blogging. Many have let me interview them or feature them via a guest post. We are a unique bunch, indeed!

    • You bring up another wonderful aspect of having writer friends, Lorraine – collaborations! So many wonderful opportunities to play and work together. 🙂

  5. Great idea. Aside from my writing coach who is a clinical professor at New York University, I have no one in my life like this! My friends entertain man-talk and shopping-talk, but they don’t know writer-speak. Thanks!

    • Oh, and there is DEFINITELY a real thing called “writer-speak.” 🙂
      I hope you find a bevy of writer friends to fill in the literary gaps between man-talk and shopping-talk.

      Good luck!

  6. Wonderful, Jamie!
    Where would I (we) be without our writer friends? I’d likely be in some sad heap on the kitchen floor, moaning the blues to the unkind demi-gods who are often spiteful rulers over the freelance writer domain 😉

    • Exactly, dear Shanna.
      Having writer friends helps us keep a clear head, sense of perspective, and – most importantly – sense of HUMOR! Sometimes that’s a (freelance) writer’s most valuable asset, bar none.

      Down with unkind demi-gods and up with cool writer friends who rock our world even while they help us keep our feet under us. 😉 xo

    • I’ve found that many of my freelancer friends are also aspiring fiction or creative non-fiction writers. Sometimes there’s some nice overlap there and you can share your hopes & dreams together.

  7. Love this post. So true. 🙂
    Still, you have to be selective at least a little bit right?
    Some writers are crazier than others and I’ve met some real nuts way out in the stratosphere!
    Others are fun crazy, slightly riding on the fringes of insanity.
    It can be challenging figuring out which are which! HA!

    • Ahhh, Laura. You are SO right.
      Yes, some of us are crazier than others, and some of us have different kinds of crazy to offer the world. 😉
      Being selective (and starting out new relationships slowly and sanely) is always a good idea. As I said in another comment, it can be kind of like dating. You have to find the right chemistry.

      XO to you!

  8. I enjoy checking in on your blog. It inspires me. I write blogs about my ancestral journey that keeps me busy. I’m learning constantly. I think that is why I write for the learning, the interesting people I meet on and off line and maybe just a little for an idea or two of what life is about. I still have a tremendous fear of putting my subjective historical book out there for the masses. I keep finding ways to delay the final edit. So, for now, I will continue stopping on you until I find that strength. That is if you don’t mind.

    • I don’t mind at all! We’re happy to have you stop by here any time you like!

      Writing is definitely a journey on many different levels, and I agree that it is a great way to learn and gain a better understanding about this crazy thing called “life.”

      And all you need is a pen and some paper. 😉

  9. Pingback: I Get By With A Little Help. . . | Live to Write - Write to Live

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