How to Choose a Writing Buddy (and Why You Should)Mar 22, 2020
Writing can be hard work, and it’s tough to know whether you’re getting it right.
Some people are gods and can write articles with an amazing voice and a budding audience. Most of us aren’t so lucky, and we are trying to work out one hundred different streams at once.
This is where a writing buddy comes in — someone who can read your drafts and give you an extra sense of security.
It’s a beautiful mutually beneficial relationship!
There are tons of articles on the internet on how to write, so why bother with a writing buddy? It sounds like a lot of work to have to read somebody else’s work.
- Focus: You can end up spending hours reading conflicting advice and trying to perfect every tiny bit of your article. An outside observer will highlight on the 20% of changes which are most important because they don’t want to spend forever helping you.
- Accountability: My writing buddy is relying on me to help them. If I don’t respond promptly, then I’m delaying their ambitions. Likewise, if I keep sending them pieces with a lot of mistakes, I can’t be surprised if they get fed up with me. A writing buddy encourages me to stay on my A-game.
- Dedication: There is no shortage of Facebook groups and subreddits for writers to try to get feedback on their work. The problem is because you are one of many, most people don’t have a connection with you. They’ll assume someone else better than them will help instead. I spend time reading my writing buddy’s articles in depth because we have built a rapport. I know they’ll do the same for me. One dedicated person is worth ten half-assed people.
- Trust: With my writing buddy, I tell them all my ideas and what I want to write about. They can interrupt me at an early stage if they think I’m going down the wrong path. I wouldn’t want to announce my plans to a larger group in case someone steals my ideas. I can be vulnerable with a buddy in a way I can’t with a larger group.
Choosing the right buddy is important to get the most out of the relationship. Take your time, because you want the right fit. Write without a buddy for a while so you’ve got over the most obvious problems. This means you will have something to offer your buddy rather than being all take.
- Enjoyable content: If you don’t enjoy your future buddy’s work, it’s going to be a doomed relationship from the start. What you enjoy reading is different from what I enjoy reading. If you don’t enjoy their back catalog, chances are you won’t enjoy reading their drafts.
- Similar niche: It’s great if you enjoy reading about sex, but if you are focusing on cryptocurrency, then it’s probably not a good fit. If you find someone who is writing about similar areas to you are then it’s likely they’ve got a plan for success in it. If you both have plans and can share the best of each then you can both be successful!
- The same league: If you’ve written two articles and two people have read them, you’re probably not going to convince somebody with millions of views to be your buddy! We are looking for an equal, not a mentor here. Someone who is going through the same struggles you are. This is best because they are in the same state of mind as you. If you are at different stages, then what you each need to succeed might vary dramatically.
- Diverse perspective: We don’t want an echo chamber. The people we want to reach with our writing aren’t all the same. A buddy who is part of different demographics to you but part of your target audience is perfect. This could be related to age, gender, race, and geographical location. You may find they misinterpret your point and you need to rethink your phrasing.
Once you’ve found someone who meets the criteria above, you now have to reach out to them. It can be hard to put yourself out there for the fear of rejection, but at this moment, your potential writing buddy is just a random person on the internet.
I recommend someone you don’t know because friends and family are used to you. They know what you mean even if you don’t express it in the right way. Your average reader doesn’t know you and will be confused instead!
- Engage with their content: Like their work. Share it with others. Comment on it. Follow them. You want them to feel appreciated before you reach out.
- See if they engage back: Do they like your comments? Do they respond to your comments? Maybe they follow you back and check out some of your work. Ideally, they will reply to your comments. Now you have had your first conversation! Judge them on their replies and see how friendly and open they seem. If they appear to value your input, move onto the next step.
- Message them directly: Most platforms will have a way to message someone privately. If the platform you are contributing on doesn’t, see if they have publicly listed any other means of communication. Do not google them and find their private accounts. We don’t want to creep! Praise them for their work and ask them if they’d be willing to be your buddy. If a toddler can walk up to another toddler and ask them to be their best friend, we can manage this!
- Repeat 1–3 if necessary: Some people will never reply and others will turn you down. This is absolutely OK, and let them be. They don’t owe you anything. There are plenty more writers on the web!
How to Keep Them
Awesome, you’ve convinced a fellow writer to be your buddy. This isn’t a marriage from the Victorian times though. They can dump you at any stage if you aren’t holding up your side of the bargain.
- Add valuable comments to their drafts: This is a no-brainer, but you need to fully engage with their content. Don’t skim it, actually read it. Say it out loud. Your buddy can spellcheck easily. Your purpose is to check whether their arguments make sense and flow. This adds value which can’t easily be replaced. Give them extra ideas you think are relevant and could elevate their piece.
- Help them with marketing: At a basic level, like all their posts you have edited. Go beyond that and help them choose where to publish their article. Advise them on whether the article fits their brand or whether they should rewrite it with a more authentic point of view. Tell them if you know social media groups that are perfect for promoting their article. Tweak their headline to get them more clicks.
- Don’t compete with them: The internet is more than big enough for the both of you. If they are succeeding, don’t be jealous of their success. Congratulate them and praise them. The better they get, the more you can learn!
- But don’t sacrifice yourself: If your buddy isn’t pulling their weight, don’t tie yourself down to them. The key is for both of you to help each other grow. You can respectfully end the relationship if you don’t think this is the case. Remember the criteria you used to select them in the first place. Check to see if you would still choose them if you had the choice today.
A writing buddy can make a big difference in how quickly you improve. Two heads are better than one after all. My writing buddy is Asmita Karanje, and she has provided valuable insights on many of my articles. Thank you, Asmita!
Here’s the cheat sheet to choosing your writing buddy.
- Enjoyable content.
- Similar niche.
- The same league.
- Diverse perspective.
- Engage with their content.
- See if they engage back.
- Message them privately.
- Repeat steps 1–3 if necessary!
How to keep them
- Add valuable comments to their drafts.
- Help them with marketing.
- Don’t compete with them.
- But don’t sacrifice yourself.
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