Writers and Friends: Research for a Feature Article

I’m writing a feature article for a regional writing magazine. My topic is “writers and friends.” As I work to find my angle, I’m wondering if you’d help me by answering any (or all) of the questions below. If you don’t want to post them below in the comments, feel free to email me at ironicmom(at)gmail(dot)com.

Nothing like harnessing the collective power of one’s writing friends to write a piece on writing and friends.

Thanks, eh?

**

On friendships with friends who write

  1. How important is it to have friends who are writers? Why or why not?
  2. How have you found and developed friendships with other writers?
  3. Do most of your writing friends write in the same genre as you do?

On friendships with non-writing friends

4. Has writing changed your relationships with non-writing friends? If so, how?
5. What are the benefits and challenges of maintaining close ties to non-writing friends?

On anything else

6. What else do you have to say on the topic of “Writers and Friends”?

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About Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom)

Leanne Shirtliffe (a.k.a. Ironic Mom) is a humor writer who lives by the motto, "If you can't laugh at yourself, laugh at your kids." She is the author of DON'T LICK THE MINIVAN: Things I Never Thought I'd Say To My Kids, the picture book THE CHANGE YOUR NAME STORE (May 2014), and MOMMYFESTO: We Solemnly Swear...Because We Have Kids (Nov 2014).
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16 Responses to Writers and Friends: Research for a Feature Article

  1. Leanne, good questions, good discussion. I have a feeling this might bring up some conflicted answers for others as well as myself.
    1. It is important to me to have writer friends, but I can find it to be difficult. It’s extremely nice to talk to someone who understands about writing, about the drive, about the blocks, about working out the character or the plot. What I find difficult is when a writer/friend either writes stuff that I don’t care for or find less than worthy, or when they in turn don’t care for my stuff. Obviously we’re talking about opinions only here, and even fellow writers are not going to agree on everything, but it does make for some tip-toed conversations. I like to support my fellow writers, but it’s difficult if I don’t really feel the work is worth supporting. How can I support them and yet not lie to potential readers?
    2. I’ve found some writer/friends thru social media, but most seem to be serendipitious meetings. Meeting other writers in any otherwise non-writer situation establishes an immediate link, and we seem to gravitate toward each other (since we’re always the minority in the group).
    3. I write in several genres–action, romance, satire, spiritual, western, biography–so most of my writer-friends overlap me in some area, at least enough to form a base of connection. Writer-friends that write poety or YA or slasher material, not so much.
    4. I have to be very aware and careful of my non-writer friendships so that I (a) don’t try to turn them into buyers and (b) don’t try to turn them into groupies. I’ve found non-writers can be in awe of us writers and it might be easy to slip into that “celebrity” mode, which of course is not an equal-to-equal friendship. I do my best to not even talk much about writing to my non-writer friends. If they want to know about it, they will ask.
    5. Having close ties to non-writers keeps us grounded, I think. As in 4 above, while acquaintances can jump to the immediate conclusion that writers are (a) rich or (b) famous, good non-writer friends know that we have still have to take the trash out, that we still fight our own demons and phobias, that we still struggle with gaining weight or family relationships or a lack of confidence. Having good friends reminds us that we are human beings, first and foremost.

    http://newmoonrising.net/

  2. Sara says:

    On friendships with friends who write
    1.How important is it to have friends who are writers? Why or why not? I think it’s important to have friends who are writers. There’s a different level of understanding and support you get when you have friends who are in the same “boat” as you. I have writer friends who have been successful and some who are still struggling and we all support each other.
    2.How have you found and developed friendships with other writers? I joined an online group. When I first started to get serious I lived out in the country and was fairly isolated. I can’t say that I’m still not somewhat isolated but I still haven’t found a good writer’s group in person as I have online.
    3.Do most of your writing friends write in the same genre as you do? Nope. I think it’s good to have variety. I’m still testing the waters, so to speak, and haven’t found a genre that I stick to. That and having writer friends in a variety of genres teaches you different aspects of writing.

    On friendships with non-writing friends

    4. Has writing changed your relationships with non-writing friends? If so, how? Not really, I have always been a writer so I guess that those who don’t write just understand it’s a part of me. I’m a big reader to and have lots of friends who are readers as well.
    5. What are the benefits and challenges of maintaining close ties to non-writing friends? You need a balance. It’s nice to have friends who I can talk life with. Not that I don’t talk about my life with my writer’s friends but there always seems to be this self-induced pressure to measure up and I don’t necessarily have that with my non-writer friends (at least not about writing).

    On anything else

    6. What else do you have to say on the topic of “Writers and Friends”?
    Writer’s have a tendency to be solitary creatures. That’s not a great way to live. We need to be around people if for nothing else but to find things for our writing.

  3. Adriana Ryan says:

    How important is it to have friends who are writers? Why or why not?
    Very important, for me. Before I had writer friends, I’d drift in and out of writing, not sure if the temporary writing paralysis I was experiencing was normal, or a sign that I was a horrible, mediocre writer who should be burned at the stake. Having writing friends has helped me realize that all the “crazy” things I feel are actually totally normal. It’s taught me to celebrate those feelings and keep plodding on!

    How have you found and developed friendships with other writers?
    Mostly through social media. Facebook and Twitter have been a great help. I’ve also joined some websites like shewrites.com, which have groups. When I landed a contract, my publisher put me in touch with all their other writers, which was a HUGE help.

    Do most of your writing friends write in the same genre as you do?
    Sort of. “Romance” is a very broad genre. While I don’t write straight romance, many of my friends do. My stories do have romantic elements, though.

    4. Has writing changed your relationships with non-writing friends? If so, how?
    Yes. I don’t think that my non-writing friends quite understand what I do. There are so many facets to writing besides just typing out the words (and even that is no small feat!), and some of them don’t get why I actually have a nanny or say that I’m working. However, most of my friends are sort of in awe of the whole writing thing, so that’s neat. :)

    5. What are the benefits and challenges of maintaining close ties to non-writing friends?
    It helps you get outside of yourself. Sometimes thinking about your characters and your books, and the marketing, and the social media, etc. etc. can get to be too much. Non-writer friends are a breath of fresh air when that happens. Not to mention, they make great fodder for stories!

    6. What else do you have to say on the topic of “Writers and Friends”?
    Good luck with the article, and congrats! :) Writers tend to be anti-social creatures for the most part–our work dictates that we sit alone and write–but friends really help us get outside of ourselves and interact with the world. That’s so important, because that’s what we write about!

  4. Lori Dyan says:

    For me, having friends who write is essential because only another writer knows about the writing life. Also, other writers make great critique partners! I’ve met writing friends through my kids’ school, online classifieds and at a conference – we writers are everywhere :-D I have writer friends who focus on poetry and short stories (genres I would never attempt), sci-fi and YA. I wondered if I would click with writers from my genre and then I met a whole gaggle of them (yes, that’s the scientific nomenclature) at a conference and we are kindred spirits.

    Non-writing friends are also important to give inspiration and perspective so that one doesn’t forget to live in the outside world ;-) I have to be careful not to steal too blatantly from my friends’ lives, especially the yucky parts that they might recognize, but I’ve also found people confiding stories to me hoping I’ll use them one day!

    Good luck on the story…

  5. Leanne,

    Here’s my answers…

    1. Vital. Who else is going to listen to me whine about the suckiness that is the query/synopsis/rejectionletter/myexpandingassfromwritingalldaylong/etc… Other writers know this stuff already so I can just vent, instead of having to first explain what it means, why it’s so important, and why I’m bitching about it :)

    2. Mostly through my blog, but I did find some great ones through a writing conference. Also, I attend a writing group twice a month. It’s great being around other writers.

    3. Not even one, but I still like them :)

    4. Two of them have become my Beta Readers, which is really great because I can get the “whole picture” from them because I know they will tell me the truth because I’ve known them forever. It’s nice because they have no concept of “show don’t tell” or what a line edit is, they can just tell me how my book made them feel, what they liked or didn’t.

    5. Friendships of all types are vitally important.

    6. Writers make great friends because they will be the first in line to buy your book when you get it published! (Elena’s book was the first I bought once I got my new Kindle, and I plan on buying yours and Trish’s too once they’re published)

    • How cool is that?! It is amazing to read the books of people you know, isn’t it? That’s been relatively new to me, but is becoming more common as I get to know more writers.

      Also, your “myexpandingassfromwritingalldaylong” comment made me laugh out loud in Starbucks. :)

  6. Hey Leanne. Caught your link on Twitter. Here’s my take.

    It’s imperative for a writer to have writer friends. Why? They’re people you can bounce ideas off of. They can see your flaws and help you improve as much as if not better than a reader can. Another reason you need other writers: they’ll tell you the truth about your writing. As we all know, family members tend to be a little biased, positively or negatively, and people who don’t know the first thing about writing might not catch that misplaced modifier.

    I have found and continue to find friendship with other writers via facebook and twitter (awesome tools, btw), and all my buddies write in a number of genres–and all the better, in my opinion. It’s good to read widely, so it must be good to have a wide variety of “scholarly” opinions.

    Writing hasn’t changed my non-writing relationships much. Okay, okay. If they’re not into writing, why talk to them at all? lol. But really, nothing’s changed. If I know someone who writes, I’m all the more interested in them because we can help one another out. Besides, nobody understands writers like writers do.

    A benefit of maintaining close ties to non-writing friends is this: you can stay grounded. We writers sometimes live on our own islands. And that’s fine. We like it here. But sometimes, you have to come down and mingle with the unwashed masses. This mingling regularly helps you stay balanced so you’re not writing 40 hours a day, eight days a week. Not every week, at least.

    Writers need friends of all stripes. That way, you get more and varied feedback on your work. ;)

    • The island metaphor is brilliant and resonates with me right now (I almost wrote “write now.” That too, I guess).

      And yes, family members are biased. As they should be. I don’t want mine to be brutally honest!

  7. What a great topic. I think having writer friends is as essential as breathing. No one understands me like they do – not even my husband or my kids. Writing is such a lonely profession that having other writer friends with whom you can share successes and rejections makes it much easier to handle the isolation. I’ve learned so much from my writer friends – about agents and publishing and storytelling. And I’ve carefully chosen writer friends who aren’t competitive so that we are always open and supportive.

    I found my first true soul-sister, writer friend at the park when we were both moms to newborns and we ended up talking non-stop and it never ended. Then I started The Momoir Project, teaching moms how to write their own memoirs of motherhood – and that has grown into a tight-knit, inspiring and supportive community of mom/writers around the globe. We stayed connected through the Momoir blog and through ongoing, online writing classes and workshops. I can tell you I’ve learned as much from all my writing students about life and style and voice and character as they have from me.

    • I love The Momoir Project! And your sentence about carefully choosing writing friends who aren’t competitive is great. When one of my writing friends is successful, I couldn’t be happier. Plus, I think we all feel we help each other meet the next step, so their success is my success, etc.

  8. Thank you all. I’m taking notes off your comments now!

  9. Trina Brooks says:

    I don’t have writer friends. I am adrift, a loner, a hermit even amongst hermit-like writers. I tried a few different writing groups but it didn’t click for me. So I just write. Me and my pen. Me and my laptop. Me and my gargoyle statue that sits on my desk. Sometimes I think I would like the company of other writers but then I realize I barely have time to write so I ‘m not going to put aside that precious time to talk to people about their work. I did meet another writer a few weeks ago. We went for coffee and talked about writing but really all I could think of was that I wanted to kiss him. I didn’t really care about his writing just if I was going to get another date. So I bet this doesn’t help you at all with your article but I’ll take any excuse to write because I love writing.

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