You’ll find them everywhere, those weird people who get a thrill out of spending hours alone to put words together until they are “just right”. You may not understand why all this time and effort are important to the writer in your life, but here’s how you can help.
- Listen. Offer your listening ear, even when you have little interest in the subject. Sometimes writers need a sounding board to help them sort out what’s brewing in their minds. You can provide that for your writer friend.
- Don’t listen. We all have our limits, so allow yourself the freedom to detach from talk about plot, felt needs, or a character’s issues. Take care of yourself so you can be a good friend, by gently letting them know when you’ve had enough.
- Read. Again, it can be difficult to wrap your mind around something a writer hands you that you have no desire to read. Give it a shot, anyway.
- Don’t read more into the writing than what it says. Just because your friend’s primary character has a black, curly-haired dog like your Fifi, and everyone in his story hates the dog, doesn’t mean he holds those feelings toward yours.
- Offer feedback, but put on a thick skin first. She may not agree or choose to implement your suggestions. Hearing your response is valuable, anyway. You don’t have to convince her your viewpoint is right, offer it and leave it for her to process as she wishes. That’s your gift to her.
- Don’t give feedback. Friendship is a dance, isn’t it? Sometimes watching a writer percolate his thoughts is entertaining in itself. He may not want or need your feedback, but paying attention can reap benefits in a relationship. Maybe he’ll take you out for ice cream or go skydiving with you once he’s done with his work for the day. (Note: I’m not available on skydiving day.)
A final point
I want to thank my husband Jerry for supporting and encouraging me, and my critique partners who give me their best. These friends are faithful to give me honest input, even adding a little sugar coating to make it easier for me to swallow.
Thank you for not being afraid to watch me squirm. And thanks for the ice cream, too.
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24 ESV).
by Kathy Sheldon Davis