Three Things to Look For in a Writing Partner

Pyewacket, my muse, but not my partner.

On my other blog today I posted about Pyewacket, my cat, who thinks she’s my writing partner. I am not sure whether she is a partner since she doesn’t always hang out and when she does, she often provides more distraction than assistance. But, she also provides inspiration, and for that I am thankful.

However, I do have a writing partner who is consistently helpful and without whom I would not have made it this far. Twelve books in with another ten set to release this year is a significant accomplishment, and one I won’t reach without her help.

But the truth is, not all writing partners are created equal. In fact, the wrong one can be a detriment to your career in ways that I don’t even want to think about. So, what should one look for in a writing partner?

  1. Encouraging, but honest: Writing partners often exchange pages on a regular basis, offering one another assistance with plot, characterization, level of conflict, pacing and more. Obviously, a partner who has nothing but good to say of your work is encouraging, but as no work is perfect, praise alone is not helpful. A competent writing partner knows this and seeks to assist you in making your writing the best it can be with dispassionate, thoughtful, constructive criticism.
  2. Ability that equals or exceeds your own: An experienced author with a high level of natural talent can mentor a less experienced and/or less able writer, but will find true partnership difficult. Why? Because a partnership is a collaboration between equals. You must be able to trust the advice they give you, just as they must be able to trust yours. Mentorship is equally valuable and can provide benefits to both sides, but it is not a partnership.
  3. Commitment to your success without envy: We say that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” but many do not act as if this is true. Jealous, dog-in-the-manger attitudes sabotage any partnership, let alone one founded in creativity. Partners cheer each other’s success and contribute to it, when they can, as if it were their own. There is no place here for narcissism.

The key to this type of partnership is that it is reciprocal. Whatever you look for in a partner, you must be prepared to provide in return. The right team can push each other to do great things, and support one another when those great things sometimes turn out to be harder to reach than anticipated.

My writing partner is consistently encouraging, unfailingly honest, highly talented and willing to help me succeed regardless of whether the help she gives me benefits her in return. One of my high-priority goals is to return the favor.

Find someone who fills that role for you. Your writing will be better for it, and so will your life.

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