By: Carly Wells
Many of the posts we read daily address issues for the writer who is seeking inspiration, guidance, or publishing help. Every day I read those posts as much as any writer. Except I’m not a writer. I’m a writer’s partner. Being a writer’s partner is a difficult position to be in. You share the successes and tribulations; you question strategies and choices made; you’re impacted by the odd hours and inconsistent income; and, for both of your sakes, you want to help out.
As a high school English teacher, I already have a life that drives me crazy with busyness, but I still want to be a part of my writer-partner’s journey toward being published, and I’m sure I’m not alone in those feelings. Here are the ways I’ve found that have helped out:
1. Do your publishing homework. Ease the stress of waiting to see what the next move is in terms of publishing by learning as much as you can for yourself. In addition to Nathan Bransford’s blog, I follow several of the top agent blogs, writer blogs, and the Guide to Literary Agents blog. I’m also a consumer of articles from Writer’s Digest, Poets & Writers, and Writer’s Marketplace.
2. Divide and conquer. About a year into our relationship, and several months into marketing my partner’s self-published novel, I panicked when I noticed that he’d ceased to get much writing done. It turned out that the business side of writing was draining his creative juices. Obviously, this isn’t the case for all writers, but in this case I was able to take some of the burden off him by managing some of the marketing side (social networking, maintaining blogs, etc.) so that he could focus more on his writing. This reduced his stress, but it also reduced mine. Regardless of your personal situation, the point is to find out how you can work together to achieve your writing goals (for us, traditional publishing for future works).
3. Seek your own supportive space. Need a place to vent about the trials of writing and publishing? Or share what you’re learning? I did. I didn’t have friends who were dating writers or my own writing group to talk about these issues with, though certainly there was some solace in my English teaching colleagues. In order to give myself a personal space to address and explore these issues, I created my own blog, To Write and Publish. Giving myself a space to write questions, vent, and celebrate, knowing that someone might read, respond, or empathize comforted me. Consider your own blog or journal, whether public or private.
4. Share events together. Consider attending a writing workshop or conference together. Look for one where you can both benefit. If you’re a writer, too, then one addressing creative aspects of writing would benefit both of you. If you’re not a writer or you’re a more recreational writer, look for one addressing both the creative and business ends of writing.
5. Be honest. Each partner needs to be honest about when he or she can and can’t help or when he or she wants and doesn’t want help. My partner doesn’t want me picking over his work trying to edit or giving him plot ideas, but he loves when I help him with web work. At the same time, I have my own life and need to be honest about when I’m too busy to help or when I’m not the best person for a task. Honesty about stress, success, fears and struggles keeps a relationship going.