Finding Writing Friends

I have a couple of online friends that I try to call and text consistently. That’s probably the most I can manage for now, since I get nervous about joining a group and I’m not willing to commit to consistent critique for a large number of folks.

To find potential writing partners, on Reddit there’s r/WriteWithMe, although you can try Facebook or Goodreads forums. The process is the same for all of them:

  1. Post about your expectations. Do you want an accountability partner? A cheerleader or coach type? Same timezone? Writing in similar genres?
  2. Collect safe contact info on a safe platform.
  3. Connect.

Voice calling implicitly asks for people to be in a certain time zone, but I also state my own timezone. If I want to do real-time instead of asynchronous communtation, then I will request that we are close enough in timezone.

One some people reach out, or I reach out to them, I suggest we schedule an introductory Discord call. I might also ask to share each other’s writing samples beforehand.

In the call itself, I ask about commitment and seriousness level, like, “Do you want to be published? Would you self-publish or try for traditional? What do you want out of this relationship? What can I do for you? Do you like schedules or do you like spontaneous?” For me it’s important that we explain our different approaches and stances. How someone answers those questions is telling. I’m serious about the craft and I fear being overbearing, so it’s easier if the other person wants similar things as me.

Since I’m older and have had formal training in a field of writing, I’d prefer adults who have completed formal training in any field and can handle criticism.

Even then, there’s always exceptions.

When someone says they write for fun, it’s not an automatic rejection. It depends on their person’s sample/style, whether we can give comments and critiques, and whether they accept my goals and I accept theirs. One partner decided to drop the writing hobby, but we have shared interests so I keep in touch.

A teenager who is trying to submit to a writing competition; they are more likely level-headed and understand competing with bigger players, compared to an adult just writing for fun, for therapy, or for exploration only. So I’d keep in touch with this teenager.

I don’t always click with everyone I meet, but you can kinda feel it during the introductions.

Success Factor #

The most influencial factor when connecting with other writers is sharing writing samples early. Sometimes I fail to share a sample for whatever reason, and my lack of reciprocation kills the momentum. It’s the same when the other person is reluctant to share. When both sides share a small piece and overcome that vulnerability, it builds trust. I shouldn’t be surprised about this, but I can’t help it. I constantly wonder about what it takes to develop platonic relationships.

It doesn’t have to be a long writing sample. For example, I pasted a poem I wrote into a DM chat. My friend asked me to read it out loud! I was nervous and chuckled a lot. They asked why I was nervous, and when I hestiated too long, they started reading the first line in a horrible British accent. I said, “Ok, I’ll read it.” I tried to read in a natural, non-chalant and casual voice. Since my poem has a rhyme scheme, there is a rhythm when performing it. I don’t want to say that it forces a rhythm, but it kinda does.

It was fun. Positive stress.

Later, they shared a link to some of their worldbuilding collections, which I am aware is a very precious act. I took a look, asked about their project, and that was that.

There is something to be said about knowing expectations and skill level. For more casual friends, I share snippets like poetry. For someone who has longer prose, I share a piece that matches the traits of their main project. You know what I mean: the chameleon habit.

It takes several meetings to find people. Making friends never really gets easier, and I have to constantly remind myself to take a leap of faith. I try to follow up with further invitations, but sometimes I get tired of being proactive and I ghost. 👻