by Emma Joniken
Got a friend that writes? People are individuals and relationships are complex, but writers are a special breed, and we have a lot in common with each other. This is what we want from you as a friend.
Show an interest
Unless you write, you’ll have no idea how much this truly means to us. Writers love to gush about their work. So, ask your friend about what they’re writing! Let them know you’re willing to read it. Even if they’re not ready to show it to you, let them tell you about their world, their story, their characters, how the writing process is going. If it’s something you’ve read, talk about the writing with them! Tell them who your favourite characters were and which parts you liked best, how you felt reading certain passages, etc. You might think it’s enough to say that you liked the book, but trust me, when someone actually seems passionate about your work, it means the world.
Be honest in your criticism
If your friend asks you to read their stuff and tell them what you think, it can be scary to be honest with them, worrying that you’ll hurt their feelings. You probably shouldn’t be too harsh (we are sensitive), but by all means, do be honest. Your friend knows their writing isn’t perfect. If they’re asking for your opinion, they trust you enough to help them make it better. It can be very annoying to hear that your story is amazing and they just loved every bit of it, when we all know that’s not true. The whole point is to improve! Give your friend constructive criticism and honest feedback about what they can work on.
Buy their book
Is your friend published? Buy their book! It doesn’t matter if you’re not a reader, or if it’s a genre you don’t usually enjoy. You don’t have to tell your friend you haven’t read it; you don’t even have to tell them you’ve bought it at all. But this kind of support does wonders to a writer’s economy and confidence and requires very little effort of you. Every sale is a win for a small writer. This is especially true if your friend has self-published. There’s nothing more discouraging than investing that much time and effort into something and sell no copies at all.
Don’t question their choices
We know how hard it is to succeed as writers or even get published in the first place. We don’t need to be reminded. It comes from a place of concern, but it can quickly get annoying and seem belittling if you feel the need to keep reminding your writer friend that they should have a back-up plan, or might not be successful, or probably won’t be able to make a living off their writing. That might be the case, but that’s not always why we write. We write for the sake of it, and we will keep doing so even if it won’t turn into a career.
Look, writing is hard. At the end of the day, all we need might just be some space. If your friend is in the zone, let them reply to texts in their own time. Let them cancel plans and don’t pester them to come out. If you want to hang out, you can spend some time in the same room while they write. It’s hard to make time for hobbies in modern lives, and one as time-consuming as writing can be extra difficult to accommodate.
And that’s it! I hope these tips help bring you closer to that good friend of yours. Or if you’re the writer, maybe show it to someone you care about to let them know about your needs. It’s important to set your own boundaries and respect each other, and it’s not rude to ask for what you need!