What Makes A Great Writing Partner?

I’ll admit to the world:  I love my writing partner, Catherine.

Weekly we’ll meet at Catherine’s house for an hour and a half, drink Diet Dr. Pepper (cures everything) and talk writing. There’s a spot on her porch we use.  It’s a large table in the corner with bird feeders outside the window, and just few enough birds flying around to not distract our focus. She’s working on a couple of fantastic projects. I love the way she thinks and writes. Besides her career teaching, she’d spent years at a newspaper and in our meetings cuts words like a seamstress with thread. I’ve quickly learned to cut empty adjectives, phrases that add nothing to the storyline, and entire irrelevant paragraphs.  It’s been valuable.  What do I like?  It might surprise you:

1) She thinks differently than I do.  Too many writers I talk to want a group with people “like them.”  Knowing a wide audience will read my work, I want a strong opinion that counters mine. I’m looking for insights I can’t add.

2) She’s committed to writing. Catherine clearly puts care into her work and brings valuable writing to the table. I learn as much reading her writing as I do from her criticism of mine.

3) She’s a giver. She’s always insisting we look at my work first. I’ve had to beat her to the punch a few times, demanding we start with her story, because I get the feeling each week that she’d be willing to forget her own work and focus on mine. That helps me remember to be a giver also, creating a nice environment.

4) She’s honest. After a few meetings, once we were clearly comfortable around each other, she cut her time trying to be “nice” to me and focused on areas to improve. That doesn’t mean she beats me up all meeting.  She’ll point out improvements and areas she likes, but she doesn’t need to spend time convincing me I’m a decent author.

I know I’m forgetting fifteen things I enjoy about working with Catherine, but if you can find those four, you’ll be on the right track.  A friend was looking for a writing group and I stupidly assumed that they’re all similar to mine. Sadly, his suffered from many problems that I won’t get into here. As he relayed his horrific experience, I realized how lucky I am. 

Thanks, Catherine!


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