Saturday, October 8, 2011

Writing Partners

Always traveling these days!  This time with no internet.  Just got back from a trip up north to a cabin with my writing partner RoseAnna.  We've been doing this since we were kids.  I strongly belief in writing partners, and not just for fiction.  Although RoseAnna writes fiction, she spent most of the week working on her dissertation.  I also strongly believe in writing retreats.  Sure, we took a hike every day, though most of what we talked about was our writing even then, and we went to the Amish bakery.  But really, we got up every day, got our breakfasts and caffeine, and worked.  We worked until six or so.  Hiked, and then had dinner.  Then sometimes went back to work, and then sometimes knocking off for the night.

Writing retreats are great because you are out of your normal.  Sure, a cabin still has dishes you might wash, and a toilet you have to flush with a bucket of creek water.  But I feel less likely to decide I have to scrub the bathroom with a toothbrush in order to avoid my writing.  On top of that, my writing feels shiny and new just because I'm not stuck in my own house.  You go for long walks and think.  Your responsibilities are down to the basics.

Writing partners are great, too.  For one, someone else is sitting in the room working, and you feel like a jerk not working, too.  For another, when you get stuck, you can interrupt the other person and ask that when they get to a good stopping point you can talk.  Then you can talk about what you are stuck on--get fresh eyes immediately and help each other out.

Writing is never as mystic as readers may think it may be, or writers may want it to be.  We have a series of skills and tools to get there just like every other job.  


  1. Writing Retreats are definitely valuable, and for much of the same reasons you talked about.

    As writers, clearly we have to be able to work at home. There are all sorts of things we can do to make it work, such as creating a designated work space and a designated work schedule. But when you are home, you are still *aware* that you have laundry that needs to be done, or notice that your office floor needs to be vacuumed, dishes done, dinner cooked, your walls scrubbed, your bookshelves dusted... getting away helps you get away from all that.

    And if you retreat with a writing partner, it's even better because you have someone you can talk things through, even when you aren't actively writing. You can say "I am stuck because this is what needs to be in this section but I can't figure out how to get it together" and your writing partner can give you feed back. Even when we aren't talking about specific writing issues, we often talk about the writing process, what works, what doesn't work, and help inspire each other and get us excited about what we are working on.

  2. I'm sorry it took me so long to respond to this blog, and to Fujinami's "hit the nail on the head" response. I work better at home than I can after work in an office environment, but the same house that gives me good light and better coffee does, sometimes, scratch at my attention like a begging dog. Even having a writing partner in my mind helps me focus. And an insightful reader can see the inevitably less developed parts of draft writing--sort of like seeing a shadowy space that needs to be filled in.