Writing With Friends

The photo here caught my eye, a repost on the Gotham Instagram. It’s a hand-drawn map of the USA, with five names listed in five far-flung states on the map—“Me, Patrick, Rachel, Barbara, Anna.” Also written on the map: “My cabin mates and I met last fall taking an online writing class.” And then, covering much of the Midwest: the name and logo of Gotham Writers Workshop.

Curious, I contacted the original poster, Jenna, and discovered…She did indeed meet the others in an online Gotham class. However, they aren’t really sharing a cabin somewhere in the woods, but rather they are all doing a virtual writing activity, CampNaNoWrimo, together.

In fact, ever since their class ended, they’ve been meeting once a week in Google Hangouts. As Jenna says, “We usually talk about writing, but sometimes ‘life’ too. Our main goal is to keep each other encouraged and accountable. Sometimes we will send each other daily word-count emails as well. We are all working on finishing up first drafts of novels, and the plan is to beta read for each other as well.”

Good for you—Jenna, Patrick, Rachel, Barbara, and Anna.

This is a phenomenon I hear about often—writers meeting in a Gotham class and forming a group that meets on a regular basis, often for many years.

When you’re a writer, having writing companions can be a lifesaver. Writing buddies help in the following ways:

Companionship – A writing project always starts out exciting, but at some point loneliness sets in. It’s just you alone with your words and ideas, day after day. It’s a lot less lonely when you have your writing friends to check in with, even if it’s just to chat with someone who knows what you’re going through.

Motivation – Most of the time, nobody cares how your work progresses, except yourself. It’s tough to stay motivated, especially if there’s not an agent or editor eagerly awaiting your next set of pages. Your writing friends know your goal and they’ll help you meet it.

Feedback – At some point, you need someone telling you what works and what doesn’t. In a supportive way. You’ve got a brilliant opening, but the story is running too long. That kind of thing. You can heed the suggestions or not, but it’s good to get them.

One of the best ways to find your writing buddies is in a Gotham class, whether it’s in-person or online. Our students are always interesting, and our teachers keep the atmosphere friendly and supportive.

If you want to see what does not happen in a Gotham class, check out this amusing video.

Alex Steele

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