Writers Need Wingmen

Writing is a solitary endeavor. When one conjures the image of a writer it is often of a lonely soul sequestered in a garret pounding away on a computer or scribbling with a pencil to transcribe the dispatches from their imagination. In truth, writers need wingmen. 

I recently reread Stephen King’s On Writing. He describes the first draft as being written behind closed doors; no one allowed as the muses impart their magic. Then in successive drafts, the door is open, inviting input as he edits. This is where a writers’ group becomes essential. Even though I am not a professional with professional editors, I do want to improve my skills. That makes writing more fun. I take classes to learn how to create scenes, characters, and dialogue. I enjoy employing the tools of the craft to make better prose and poetry. My writers’ group is invaluable as a means of testing those skills. They are my wingmen. They support me and protect me from the threats of dangling participles, passive voice, misdirected sentences, and weak prose. I get positive feedback from Jackie and Sally when they read my story. Positive feedback doesn’t mean making only affirmative comments. On the contrary, it means they look for the divots in the course. Does the story hold together? Are the characters believable? Does the narrative draw the reader in? As a solitary writer, I know what I want to say but sometimes it gets stuck in my head and doesn’t make it to the page. They spot places where something is missing in the narrative or a character. Their critique lets me know if a sentence doesn’t make sense or a scene doesn’t carry the story forward. They help me clarify my intent. That support makes me a better writer, a better communicator.

It is a pleasure to share my writing with a group of trusted friends and have them share their stories with me. Thank you Jackie and Sally. We learn from each other. In Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets we three coauthors describe our journey as a group, learning to be better writers while expanding our friendship. We encourage writers to create small groups and discover the support within that close dynamic.

End Results

There’s a culture where women have been encouraged to compete their entire lives and not always in a positive manner. Who’s the thinnest, prettiest, smartest, best athlete, best artist, and yes, best writer? I’m not saying all have been conditioned this way, but I’m betting each and every one of us has thought or dealt with it. 

It isn’t easy bringing three authors on board to write a book we all agreed upon. We each brought to the table our personal writing techniques, our beliefs regarding the path we wanted our book to take, and most importantly, our clearly different personalities. Don’t get me wrong, we did have some irritable or tense moments, but they were rare and short as we learned how to listen to different ideas and compromise. We learned to carry each other during the times we just wanted to give up. Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets became the outcome of our support, caring, and deep respect for each other.

 I am thrilled we have finally completed our goal to write this book; a goal we’d had for years. Perhaps the best part of this whole journey is how our friendship and commitment to each other and to writing has deepened even more.