Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Writing Buddy

I like this John Steinbeck quote: The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.

I always encourage my clients to set aside time to write whether they believe that their work is the most important thing in the world or not. For me the best solution has been to behave as if my writing is the most important thing in the world. Belief follows behavior.

Not always. Some days, I write all day and still think, “Why am I wasting my time?” On other days, it is difficult to take time to work on a project that I doubt will ever make it into print.

Writers, when you doubt yourself and your work, hang out with a fellow writer. This one small action will inspire you. Writing is a solitary profession. It has to be. But getting up and facing the blank page every day is easier when you have friends who do the same and can share your pain!

Recently, the new field of network science has begun to examine how our social connections influence us. In 2007, Harvard professor Nicholas A. Christakis and UC-San Diego professor James H. Fowler published a study suggesting that obesity is contagious. They found that having a single obese friend increased by 57% one’s chances of being obese. Scientists are discovering that many emotions and behaviors spread through our social networks, including happiness and regular exercise. I wonder: would having a friend who was a productive writer increase by 57% one’s chances of becoming a productive writer? Why not try it and see what happens?

I’ve been making more time to hang out with writer friends. Here are some of the questions I ask other writers:

*What books have inspired you? What works in them? What would you do differently?

*What trends do you see in the field? How is writing different than it was ten years ago?

*What are you working on? What challenges are you facing? What excites you right now?

*How can we help each other be accountable? This question has led to sharing informal deadlines, weekly email reports, and writing days.

*How can we help each other move forward? From time to time, I will exchange manuscripts with friends for critique. I find it helpful to get feedback from another person writing in the same genre. And, it is an honor to be able to think critically about another person's manuscript.

This week as you are planning your writing time, schedule a walk or coffee date with another writer. No doubt you will leave your meeting inspired and ready to write. 

WANT TO USE THIS TIP IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander teaches professionals how to write more, get published, establish credibility, and navigate the new world of social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at and sign up to be a member of her Write Now! Mastermind class for professionals at

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