J. L. Willow

Author ~ Blogger ~ Storyteller

A couple days ago, I was sitting with a good friend of mine named Emma. I was trying to think of something to write a blog post about. When I told her this, she jokingly responded that I should write the blog post about her. I laughed, thought for a moment, and then said, “Okay.”

No, this will not be a post solely focused on my friend and how awesome she is (although I could easily write a post about that). Instead, I’m going to talk about how important it is for writers young and old to have a solid support group. Look, I get it. Most days we’re working it’s sitting in front of a computer screen with no one around, having no one to talk or listen to except the voices in our heads. It’s really easy to block out the rest of the world and solely live in our own writing-bubble. Although it’s important to immerse yourself in your writing, it’s just as important to be able to take a step back and fall-back on your support group when you need to. Both are crucial parts of the writing process.

There’s no set rules for who you can or can’t have in your “support group” (I’m even using an umbrella-term to describe it). Siblings, friends, parents: anyone who you feel comfortable enough to share your ideas, struggles and thoughts with. When I just listed those adjectives, did anyone come to mind? If they did, they’re probably your support. It’s not a huge title (like ‘Beta Reader’) that you bestow upon someone. It just sorta happens naturally. Here are a few reasons to have an awesome support group:

  • Bouncing off ideas: As writers, inspiration can come from anything: the weather, a conversation, even a dream. While we should keep track of all these ideas, not all of them are going to stick. It’s our job to find the ideas we believe have potential, but it’s also a good idea to check with someone else to clarify that it is a good idea. You don’t want to get to the Beta Reader phase of your work and then realize that no one is interested in your book. When asking someone about a plot idea, you don’t have to give a huge summary. Simply asking, “Would you read a book about ____” is enough to see if it peaks their interest. If you have a solid support group, they shouldn’t just be telling you what you want to hear. Hopefully, they’ll be comfortable enough to share with you whether they think your idea really is a good one.
  • Beta Readers: If the people you trust are avid readers, then it might be a good idea to consider them as your Beta Readers. Chances are you’ve already mentioned your project to them, so it’s the next logical step to let them read it. They’ll be comfortable enough to be honest with you, and they’d most likely be thrilled to read your work! You can get outside people to read, too, but if you’re having trouble thinking of someone to choose, your support group is a great place to start!
  • Support when you need it: Writing isn’t an easy occupation. It’s even more difficult if you’re attempting to do it while working or enrolled in school. You can get overwhelmed, have second guesses about your work, and even consider trashing the whole thing. When I was writing The Scavenger, I experienced all three of these. It can be really hard to work through them alone. That’s where your peers come in. Having an outside perspective can make things so much more manageable and easier to deal with. They can help calm you down and bring yourself back to reality before doing something you’ll regret (like trashing your book).

There are so many more reasons that it’s important to keep a few people close throughout your writing process than the ones I’ve just listed. It’s crucial that you have someone to rely on and trust. Writing is not an easy thing — if it were, more people would be doing it! Don’t feel like you have to do everything yourself. It’s okay to admit your faults and understand that sometimes you need help.

Who do you consider to be a part of your support group? Comment below!

Keep working hard, writers!

— J. L. Willow

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