When I tell people I’m a writer, the response is usually something like this:
“That’s so cool, but I could never be a writer. I couldn’t sit alone all day and just write.”
People often picture a writer as the solitary Ernest Hemingway sitting at his desk with only a typewriter and a bottle of liquor as company. But this isn’t actually true (well the liquor part may be). In reality, I rely heavily on, what I call, my personal writers’ room.
The term “writers’ room” is often used in television production. It’s the place where all the show’s writers gather and toss around story ideas, write scripts, critique each other’s work, and offer criticism and feedback to make the writing better. While this is a common practice in television, it doesn’t have to be limited to creating for the silver screen.
Every writer needs a writers’ room. Everyone needs a critic, a cheerleader and an advocate. Because while the act of putting words to paper may be more of a solitary activity, the rest of the process – pitching, re-pitching and publishing – can be quite grueling and discouraging.
It’s often said that every writer needs a “yes” because we constantly hear “no.” That’s the awful truth about writing: You’re going to work really hard and pour your guts into your work, and more often than not, it will go nowhere.
That’s why you need a writing team or partner to be your “yes,” to encourage you, and reassure you that the work you’re doing is not a complete waste of time.
So whether you’re a seasoned writer or someone just starting out, make sure you have a support team to help you in the process. Here are some tips for finding the right people for your personal writers’ room:
Find someone who has the same taste as you. So they can evaluate your work objectively, but understands what you’re trying to convey. They don’t have to agree with every point you make, but they have to have the same taste.
Find a person that is not your family member. Your family is not objective (even though they think they are). They may be proud of you, but often times your spouse/parent/sibling has not even read your work. Find someone you trust like family, but won’t be sitting across from you at the dinner table on a regular basis.
Find someone who shares similar goals as you. If you and a friend are both attempting to write and publish personal essays or opinion pieces, work together to edit each other’s writing and hold one and other accountable. Working with someone who is doing similar work will help motivate you at the same time.
Find someone who will hold you accountable. My writing partner and I like to talk about our goals and then give each other a deadline for completing a rough draft, and then commit to sending the piece to each other. This is extremely helpful because while I may know I need to write a piece, the knowledge that my partner is waiting for me to send it is extra motivation to complete the work.
And finally, find a person who makes you laugh. As I said, writing with the goal of publishing is a lot of rejection. You need to have a kindred spirit who is willing to put themselves through all the abuse because they love writing as much as you. And being able to laugh with that person makes all the difference in the world.
Writing is a tough business. But having a personal writers’ room will make the writing process seem less lonely, and having a partner or team will help you become a better writer.