[If you haven't yet, read about the dangers of toxic "friends" in Part 1 of "Writers: Choose Your Friends Wisely."]
Traits of a True Friend
So…what are the characteristics of friends who best nurture our creativity and productivity?
A. Supportive non-writer friends show an interest. They may not understand exactly what you do, but they ask about your current projects (as you ask about theirs). They’re happy for your successes, no matter how small in the world’s eyes.
B. Supportive writer friends pump you up to do your best work, and even act as cattle prods. (“Quit stalling. Sign up for that conference.”) The encouragement of your peers is special. At one point, because of some health problems, I had virtually lost touch with my writer friends for over two years. Until I reconnected at a conference, I hadn’t realized what a grind my writing life had become. Just being together to “talk shop” reminded me that I was a writer. It rejuvenated my enthusiasm.
C. Friends in a working critique group can be a godsend. First, the members offer good constructive criticism to each other. Second, members hold each other accountable (in a kind way) for actually producing some material each week.
D. In a beneficial way, misery loves company! How much better I felt when I attended a retreat to discover that I wasn’t the only one whose books were going Out Of Print or who hadn’t signed a book contract all year. Instead of feeling like an abysmal failure, I then saw my experience as part of the general upheaval of the publishing world.
E. On a practical level, supportive writing friends often share valuable marketing tips (who’s looking for what genre, an agent’s advice about a hot topic). Alone, we writers have little “inside information”; collectively, we have a broader base of knowledge.
Finding Those Friends
If you need a change in the friendship area, don’t despair. You can find new supportive friends. As you nurture your writing life and grow in self-confidence, you’ll attract friends (writer and non-writer alike) who are more supportive as well.
We often have to believe in ourselves before anyone else does. Others often take their cues from us. So learn to be your own best friend first!