Buddy Up!

- by Jan Scarbrough

Writing fiction is often a thankless job. Not only is the competition stiff, but often your best effort goes unrewarded. The dreaded rejection letter, whether a form or a personal “good” letter, is all too common for most novelists. That’s why we need the support of other writers, our “writing buddies” as I like to call them.

Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical author Renee Ryan agrees. “Fellow writers are truly the only other people who understand the highs and lows of the emotional roller coaster we fiction writers have chosen to ride—willingly, no less. Friends and family don’t understand (not that they don’t try) but, honestly, when a rejection rolls in, who better to trust with our pain than someone who received the same response a few days before? Or when that tenth sale comes through only a fellow writer understands that there is nothing ‘old hat’ about that call.”

There’s nothing worse than a friend asking “When is your next book coming out?” What next book? Although I may have a “work in progress,” that doesn’t mean I have a contract and a “next” book. I usually write on speculation, completing a full manuscript before submitting it to an agent or publisher.

A writing buddy “gets it.” Resplendence Publishing author Magdalena Scott says, “No one else really understands what writing takes out of a person, and what a passion it is. I am fortunate to have many supportive people in my life, but to talk writing and publishing in more than general terms, at least with most of them, is impossible. They want to be interested, but their eyes glaze over.”

Writing buddies help you learn your craft. Most novelists I’ve met are generous with their time and guidance. Medallion Press author Cheryl Norman concurs. “More experienced, published writers have given me practical advice, not sugar-coated or meaningless praise. Judges in contests gave me detailed critiques and helped me get on track. One in particular, Vicki Hinze, gave me a one-hour, long distance phone call (at her expense, bless her heart!) teaching me about author intrusion and how to avoid it. Thanks to her, I turned that manuscript into my first mass-market paperback sale.”

Joanne Rock, author of over thirty books for Harlequin/Silhouette, puts it this way, “Other writers provide me with critiquing help, industry insights, brainstorming input, promotional boosts, technical support and social networking. They give me cover quotes, talk up my books to readers who might be interested, link to my website, provide expert advice and assure me I can meet my deadline when I’m overwhelmed. I don’t think my writing would be half as fun or as successful without that outside help.”

For me, the support of other writers has been invaluable. In fact, it’s what makes the long hours and frequent disappointments worth it.

Multi-published author Maddie James sums it all up. “Writing is such a solitary thing. It’s not so much that I need my writing buddies to critique or pump me up about what I’ve written, but just for them to be there for me when I need to whine or vent about what is, or isn’t happening, with my writing and/or writing career.”


  1. Jan,

    Congratulations on yet another great article! Your posts on SisterWriters are always so thought-provoking, too–especially compared to the fluff I usually toss onto the blog.

    This is just one of many reasons I’m fortunate to be one of your writing buddies. Where would I be without my SisterWriters?!?!?

    Magdalena (the fluffy one)

  2. All very true — I find the writing buddy probably more valuable than the crit partner, but someone who can listen when you are really in the “dark place” and field those emotions for you and help you work through them is priceless.

    There’s no way we can get through this business without having really bad days (weeks, months) and having people who can help is gold. I know, because I had the opposite as well — a “friend” who once told me, in a really bad writing time, that maybe I should just quit if I was unhappy — I knew immediately she wasn’t much of a friend. My real writing buddies understand the source of the pain, reflect it, help me work through it, and they are there at the end when you pick yourself back up and get at it again.

    An editor told me that you don’t always know who your friends are until you “break out” but I beg to differ — I think you can find out who your friends are when you are the most miserable you can be, and they are willing to listen and put up with you anyway (and they are also willing to tell you to man up, and cut it out. LOL).


  3. Great post, Jan. Yeah, I rely on your guys so much! This is a tough time for writers and publishers… and our writing buddies are so very important. Thanks for being my writing buddy for all these years.


  4. I’d spent years as a closet writer because friends thought I was a bit strange in wanting to spend all my leisure time writing things down. Unless one is a writer it’s impossible to understand the need to create.

    Then, a couple of years ago, I went to my first writers’ conference and suddenly I’m in a room with 400 people who just got it. It was such a relief.

    Great post

    Laura Essendine
    Author – The Accidental Guru
    The Books Limited Blog

  5. Great article, Jan!

    Although I love losing myself in the depths while writing, its is great to surface to writing buddies who know and understand that what we do, we do because we have to. You, and our SisterWriters, make my writer’s journey so much richer.

    Thank you,


  6. Jan,

    Write on! What a great article. And, yes, nothing beats a writing buddy. I’ve often found myself talking for hours with a writing buddy about all things writing while I can’t get past five minutes with non-writing friend before I get the dreaded eyes glazing over.

    God bless you for a wonderful, well thought-out article!

  7. The writing community is such a sharing place!

  8. Supporting documentation can make the difference between a bit of kit that’s ok or one that’s exceptional at the job it was designed for. How do you know you’re using something properly if you don’t know it’s capabilities for instance. I’m not sure why Buddy Up! appeared when I was searching specifically for contract technical writer but I read it anyway and will think a bit more about it. There are some interesting points.