We writers can be a solitary lot, but if you’re going to undertake something as daunting as writing a novel (let alone building a viable writing career), you need a solid team to back you up. I’m not talking about your cover designer or marketing guru. Those are people you need after the next Great American Novel is finished. I’m talking about the four people every writer needs to get from beginning to end with their sanity (mostly) intact.
Number one. The cheerleader.
This is the person you go to when you need support. This is a person who will always tell you you’re brilliant and amazing and the best writer ever. Well, they don’t need to think you’re the best writer ever but this person needs to think that you’re the cat’s meow.
When you’re doubting your abilities or having a rough writing day sometimes you just need someone to give you a lift. Sometimes before you can give your manuscript to the person who will, in all likelihood, tear it to shreds you need to give it to someone who’s going to tell you what a great job you did.
Chances are good your cheerleader is your mother or your best friend or your spouse. A cheerleader is important and great to have, but don’t confuse them with the other members on your team.
Number two. The eagle eye.
This is the person you go to when you need to know whether or not your story is actually working. This person will tell you what’s great and they will just as easily tell you what’s not great.
This is the person who is able to analyze plot, structure, character development, bad narration, brilliant imagery, and anything else that might be in your story. This is the person you go to because you want your story to be the best you can possibly make it. This is not the person you go to when what you need to hear is what a wonderful writer you are. That’s what the cheerleader is for. Your eagle eye is a vital part of your team. She will make sure that your story is doing what you really want it to do.
Chances are your eagle eye is your editor. If not, this person should be just as qualified.
Number three. Partner in crime.
This is the person you talk to about all your hopes and dreams. This is the person who encourages you when the going gets rough and you really need someone to tell you to keep going. This is the one you can talk to about your marketing plan and story ideas and anything else that has to do with making your dreams come true.
This person could be your spouse, another writer, another creative person, or maybe all three. In my case this is my spouse. I’m a writer; he’s an artist. Together we dream big, we work hard, and we lift each other up through the rough spots. When necessary, we give a kind but firm kick in the pants. We make sure that no matter what we don’t give up.
Number four. Your fellow odd ducks.
We writers can be a strange bunch. Sometimes it’s hard for other people to really understand us. It’s even harder to find people who are willing to talk about the intricacies of writing a story or getting a sentence just right. Writers do well to have at least a couple other friends who are also writers.
These are people who aren’t going to get bored if you’re talking about character arcs or the writing process or that amazing writing blog. These are the people who aren’t going to give you the glazed-eye-look when you start talking about word count and metaphors and the story ideas you haven’t written yet. Birds of a feather flock together. Find your flock and stick with your fellow birds.
Do you have these people in your life? If not do you wish you did? Who else is important in the life of a writer?