People always talk about writing being an introverted profession. We sit at our desks for hours on end, silently producing words and sharing them with few people, until we finish it and have to share it with an editor and then the world. But writing shouldn’t be an isolated activity. We need help now and then (from actual people, not just Google), and we need support. So let’s get into a few ways people can be a great help with our writing.
We need support
First of all, we can’t do this writing thing alone. It’s hard. It can be draining. It’s easy to prioritize it over simple things like eating and sleeping. We need other people as moral support and to remind us to take care of ourselves. We need people to encourage us to keep writing when it’s slow going and remind us that we’re still making progress, even if it feels like we’re barely moving. We need people to remind us that our writing isn’t as terrible as we think when we’re on our fifth draft and we feel like burning our manuscripts.
But we also need honest friends, who will tell us it’s time to step back from the draft before we grab the blowtorch, who will tell us when the projects we’re focusing on aren’t really worth continuing with, who will give us constructive criticism. That’s support, too, painful as it sometimes is.
We need additional eyes and outside perspectives
When we’re on that fifth draft and we feel like all our writing is awful, or when we’re on the third draft and we know there are issues in a scene but we’re so numb from rereading it a billion times that we can’t figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it, we need outside eyes. We need help from people who haven’t read the thing a billion times, who will come at it from a fresh perspective and catch things we can’t because we wrote it and we know it inside and out. We need people who will look at our work objectively and from the perspective of a reader who knows close to nothing about the story, who will catch all those things we overlooked because we knew them and took them for granted.
I’m thankful for my Slander & Steel beta-readers, who helped me pick out issues in my second draft: Gabi, Andrew, True, Frances, Anna, and Emma. I’m also thankful for Allie’s help with my current fourth draft, as she helps me identify and fix the problems I’m too numb to to see clearly.
It’s also super helpful to have friends you can go to and bounce ideas off of when you’re stuck with a plot hole. Sometimes just working it out aloud to someone who will listen is enough to get it figured out, which is awesome. Sometimes you’re really stumped and you need an outside perspective to help shake things up. There was a plot point in Slander & Steel about two thirds of the way through that stumped me so bad I dropped the book for six months. When I came back and still couldn’t figure it out, I took it to my dad and he sorted it out in ten minutes.
We need people excited about our work
This kind of ties in with the “support” section, but we need people who will get excited about our stories who can keep us going when we’re tempted to stop writing, or shove our books at people on the street when they’re published, or promote them in blog tours if they want to be less drastic about it
Writing is great, but what’s its purpose if it’s not getting read? And how do we find people to read it? Well, once you have this handful of people excited about your work, they’re going to help you find more readers and your book is going to be more widely enjoyed thanks to them spreading the word about it.
These people aren’t just our minions for world domination through books, they’re also our readers. And, for me at least, often favorite readers because they’re the people who are going to engage and they’re the people you’re going to get to know through blog post comments and reviews and fanmail. (I have not actually gotten fanmail, but my experience with blog post comments and reviews has been amazing.)
I’m thankful for all of my frequent commenters, readers who share my promotional posts, and all the authors I’ve gotten to know online because we’re excited about each others’ work. (And all the rest of you, whether you’re openly excited or totally bored about my projects.)
We need people willing to buy our books
This is what we do, so it’s obviously helpful to have people who are willing to buy the books we poured months or years of work into, and who will be willing to support us… monetarily.
Things I hate: asking people for money. Things I don’t have: money. Things I need to self-publish a book: money. Hence my Kickstarter campaign, which hit halfway yesterday! I’m super thankful for all the people who contributed, and I’m amazed that there’s only one book box left. I’ve been thanking God for the success, and praying that He would guide the project to completion. I’m super hopeful that I’d be able to get the rest, even though there are only nine days left, and that I’d be able to publish this book for God’s glory next summer.
(If you’d like to help, you can contribute to my Kickstarter, share the campaign, or just pray that God would guide the campaign to the right people and that He’d help it to succeed.)
A lot of us authors need these people who will put their faith in us and help us complete our projects when we hit the stage of paying for editors or cover art: grandparents, parents, friends, people we only know from online… It might surprise you how many people are willing to contribute toward getting your book published, or buy it when it comes out.
I’m incredibly blessed to have such a wide group of supporters, of all kinds: beta-readers, people who encourage me to keep writing, people who’ve helped contribute to my Kickstarter, people who’ve let me bounce ideas off of them, people who read my blog, people who’ve left reviews on my short stories. I sincerely hope that all of you authors out there have a wonderful support group, whether it’s a couple dozen people or only a small handful. It takes a village to write a book.
Thank you for being a part of my “village,” and I hope that I’m able to be part of yours. :)