Monday, January 11, 2010

The Plus One Factor

All of us know that writing can be a lonely business without our crit partners or groups. When I first began writing seriously, with the intent to publish something, I had a writing partner. Just me and her, we owned the world and we were going to hit the bestseller lists with our awesomeness. Hey, we were optimistic So, with this post I want to address the pros and cons of having a singular writing partner. Tomorrow we'll talk about the excitement of a group.

The great thing about having a singular critique partner is the undivided attention. We worked on our own throughout the week, but each morning we met each other in gmail chat. We discussed what we planned to do with our day, brainstorm together when we were stuck, we even challenged each other with writing prompts or shared stories (I write a paragraph, she writes was fun!). There was never a time that I felt like I couldn't email or hop over to chat and send her a message to get myself going again. Soon, we developed a friendship and would call each other rather than chat online.

The only negative I found about this incredible partnership was the lack of any other opinions. Considering we were both in a "beginner" level, without knowledge of agents (we worked on children stories for magazines together, we took the same course through ICL) or the fine tuning of writing, there were plenty of times that both of us were stumped on something and had to seek outside help or research online until we figured it out.

We swapped manuscripts all the time and helped each other a lot, with our different styles, that was a positive. My incredible writing partner is no longer writing right now due to some issues in her life. We remain friends and I can't wait for her to start working again. 

If you are looking for a single writing partner, I encourage you to do so. The freedom of sending anything at any time to your partner is freeing and very helpful. Not only that, you end up sharing information you find and learn together. It's really awesome. There's no set way to do it, but if you are really busy and can't take the type of time needed to chat online try something more organized, like this:

Choose one day a week to get together-through chat programs or email, or Google Wave-At that time present each other with a list of goals for the week/month(your choice). Decide together what days are good for manuscript swapping that week/month and how quickly you expect to swap back. It's important to establish this before each week/month because it can change, and you don't want to end up rushing your partner or feeling rushed yourself. Throughout the rest of the week/month simply email any issues, new things you've learned and found interesting or words of encouragement. DO NOT however, bombard your new critique partner with every funny/inspirational/heartbreaking FWD that you receive from friends and family. :) Always show formality until invited to do otherwise, is my fail safe method.

It's up to you to also decide if you want a partner that writes the same genre/age group as you, or if that matters to you. You may also want to ask prospective writing partners how many other groups they might be involved in. You don't want someone to be exclusive to you, but someone that is a part of two book clubs, three critique groups that meet monthly and has three kids might not have the time you are looking for. Evaluate what you really need out of the partnership.

Which leads me to the shameless plug of telling you to head over to Critter Corner and check it out! Especially if you are looking for a person or group to share your writing journey with.

*PS-thank you everyone for the kindest wishes to my princess on her tenth birthday. She pretty much had an entire weekend of fun, which is always a great thing. Until school starts on Monday. LOL


  1. I didn't have anyone looking at my work a year ago, so I considered any eyes a great plus. I see advantages to both. If you have too many you might be differing opinions, but only one person might not be enough.

  2. This is a great post. I don't know if I ever considered getting just one partner. By the time I was ready to stop going it alone, I'd only every heard of "crit groups." So that's what I ended up with.

    What I love about that is that we are all in different places now, and when one gets overwhelmed in life, the others are still there. And when I get overwhelmed and need to check out, I know others will pick up the slack.

    On the other hand, having one special person must be a great partnership, and a more intense feeling of being in it together. I like that idea too. I have one friend who is in three different groups... all bring something new to the table. I think that would be too time consuming for me, but what a great thing it is for her!!

  3. Great post. Beth and I have worked together for a year and a half. That one on one is wonderful. If I don't have anything(because life and hospital trips interfered,) that's okay. Same with her. (She's been sick with a stomach bug.) I know I can count on her.

    Plus, I've been beta reading this fabulous YA novel by one of our blogging buds. That helps me to hone my critting skills and helps me in my writing too.

    But I also know I need more than just one crit partner. Beta readers, and lots of other eyes examining my work. (No hubby, you don't count.) :0)

  4. Crit partners are invaluable. I was lucky enough to find 2 awesome folks online and the 3 of us bounce crits and ideas back and forth. It's great.

  5. I like the idea a partnership because you are really invested in each other's work. I like to think of my husband as my writing partner--he's the first one to read my work (and he wants me to succeed). Then I pass it on to my critique group and get a wider range of critiques. Both are helpful.

  6. Patti: I like the groups so that I can see where more than one person may have pointed stuff out. but I love the personal attention of one. :)

    Heidi: Well put. I think this road would be so much harder completely alone.

    Robyn: I know, bless those hubbies. They just don't understand why we aren't the next writing sensation, do they?

    Jemi: Good for you!

    Natalie: That's awesome. My hubby hates reading. He supports me, but rarely reads my work. LOL


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