How to Be Friends With Another Writer

| Friday, September 7, 2012
Real blog post today, heck yeah! Although I am totally and unapologetically stealing this idea from Jezebel's list of How to Be Friends With Another Woman (which should be required reading for ladies, particularly ladies who claim every other lady is awful and men are way better by default, BUT THAT IS ANOTHER POST FOR ANOTHER TIME).

Without further ado, here is how to be friends with another writer.

1. Soul search and figure out if you're really ready for writer friends. What stage are you at in your writing life? Are you the type of person prone to extreme jealousy? Is it going to make you feel bad to be friends with someone who's clearly ahead of you, or someone who may get the agent/deal/success first? If those sort of things will make you miserable and bitter, you're not ready to be a good friend to other writers. Think about it for a while.

2. If you honestly can't stand someone's writing, don't agree to critique for them. You're not doing them a favor. If they have miles left to go, let them down gently, recommend something that will help (books, blogs, conferences, etc.), and tell them they're off to a great start. You may feel bad or they may be hurt, but trying to critique something that you hate or that isn't ready means your heart won't be in it and it will show. It won't help them.

2B. And if you're in over your head because they're more advanced than you anticipated, be honest. Tell them that it's beyond your critique level, but you're happy to be their cheerleader.

3. Don't belittle or dissect writer-friends behind their backs. If they're friends, they're friends for a reason. Likewise, don't claim to never have a cross word to say about another writer/reviewer/successful author/etc., because you'll be lying. Just don't do it to the people you're supposed to support.

3B. If you do want to say some not-so-nice things about other writers/reviewers/authors, do so in private among like-minded friends. And if you're making someone uncomfortable with your snarking, stop. Note that snarking a book and snarking an author are not the same thing.

4. If a friend hits a success milestone and is over the moon about it, be happy and supportive for them. If you're in a dark place and you can't feel that way, take a break and go elsewhere until you feel like you're in a better headspace. Jealousy is normal, but don't let jealousy turn into bitterness. See #1.

5. Hope for the best for your friends, because happy and successful friends are great to be around, and their attitude (and maybe a little of their luck) may rub off on you.

6. Don't form a coalition of Trade vs. Indie/Self-Publishing. Both have their merits and their pitfalls, and the decision to go with either is highly individual. Avoid surrounding yourself with "friends" who try to convince you one is clearly superior over the other.

7. Be honest, but tactful. Sometimes the best thing to do for your writer friends is to tell them that their manuscript just isn't working. It's rough and painful, but not as rough and painful as spending months or years on something that will eventually flounder. Tell them the truth firmly, but don't crush their spirit. Unless they're the sort of friend who can handle sarcastic jabs and give them back.

7B. If they're not ready to hear that and insist on sticking it out with their crappy manuscript, then let them do their thing. It's a decision they have to come to themselves. That doesn't mean you have to agree to hang out with it, though.

8. Have a well-stocked supply of booze and/or chocolate on hand for late night chat sessions or crying jags.

9. Laugh together, dudes. If you can't make each other laugh and have a good time, then what's the point?

10. Surround yourself with writers who can make you better. Who challenge you, expect things from you, and support you. Don't be satisfied with yes-men and people who will only squee and bow before your brilliance. Sometimes that stuff is just what you need to hear, but you also need people who help you grow. And you need to be okay with that.

11. Don't throw your successes in your friend's face. If you're doing well, feel good about that, but don't turn all of the talk onto yourself. It's okay to be proud of your achievements -- you should be! It's not okay to pat your friend on the head when they lament their umpteenth rejection and then blather on about your cover reveal. This doesn't mean you can't talk about that stuff, especially if they ask. It just means it shouldn't be ALL you talk about.

12. Don't forget to connect about something other than writing once in a while. Sure, it's probably why you found each other in the first place, but you should have at least a handful of other topics you can chat about when you're done writing and critiquing and reading.

13. If you're getting tired of answering your friend's eight billionth email dissecting the form rejection letter from so-and-so agent, just try to stick it out. Remember that one of these days, it's probably going to be YOU filling THEIR inbox with your weird writer neurosis.

14. Become friends with people who get you and get your writing. Likewise, you should get them and get their writing. When you're both humming the same general tune, you'll make better music together.

15. Talk each other down from making an ass of yourselves online. Whether that's responding to a bad review, getting upset over some negative press, finding a mean blog post, or whatever... friends don't let friends post on the Internet mad.

16. Write on!


{ Mrs. Silverstein } at: September 7, 2012 at 5:50 AM said...

Love this, and love the Jezebel article. This is a great adaptation. I would add a 4B--try to keep a list (either in your head, or hey why not, on paper) of the successes you have had, writing-related or not. Knowing you can bake amazing cookies or that you have a relationship that kicks ass or that you clean the house like nobody's business can be really helpful when you see that your friend just got an agent or a book deal (or a promotion, or a new car, or whatever, but this is about writing.) And if you need to tell yourself that you bet your agented friend's cookies aren't very good? That's fine, just do it in your own head.

{ vic caswell (aspiring-x) } at: September 7, 2012 at 6:21 AM said...

nail head- square hit.

{ Stephanie Ingrid Sarah Kristan } at: September 7, 2012 at 6:35 AM said...

Aww, this made us smile, b/c all those points are exactly how/why the four of us work so well together. :)

{ JeffO } at: September 7, 2012 at 6:42 AM said...

Great stuff, Stephanie. Number 15 seems especially important these days, with all the nitwittery that's been going on.

{ Matthew MacNish } at: September 7, 2012 at 7:01 AM said...

I was going to say you should change this post to "how to be friends with other humans," but really, it's not the same. Writers, and the dynamic of being published or not, and the success, and the fact that it can be a career for some ... it changes things. Drastically.

I'm friends with some pretty famous authors. It's impossible to have absolutely zero jealousy, because, you know, I would love to have that life, but it's very important not to let it out of the woodshed, where it belongs. These people are very kind to me, and go out of their way to be friendly and helpful. It would be very petty to let jealousy or resentment into the relationship.

{ Andrew Leon } at: September 7, 2012 at 11:08 AM said...

What Matthew said. Except I don't know anyone that's famous, yet.
Unless you count that time George Lucas said "howdy" to me. Yeah, that totally counts.

{ prerna pickett } at: September 7, 2012 at 4:53 PM said...

great advice. And I can't wait for the post on chicks hating on other chicks. I don't live close to my bffs anymore and miss girl time and having female friends around.

{ Whirlochre } at: September 8, 2012 at 3:42 PM said...

We're all buzzing in the same swarm irrespective of the size of our wings.

{ Cristina } at: September 9, 2012 at 3:59 AM said...

this post is awesome. So much good advice. Thanks for sharing :)

{ Jonah M } at: September 9, 2012 at 10:04 AM said...

Ur blog is awesomeeeeeee :)

{ Kari Marie White } at: September 11, 2012 at 7:07 PM said...

I love this. Such great advice - and all stuff I learned the hard way. LOL. #10 really resonated with me though.

{ aliya seen } at: July 8, 2016 at 4:44 AM said...

The personal statement writers is give us a unique post related to writers. Best post.

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