Team Effort

A pair of people. One is sitting down, writing. The other is standing over his shoulder, looking at what is being written.

I’ve been meaning to write about the absolute gem of having a writing partner.

You know – somebody at whom I can throw a first draft of my work, they will read it, and put on their editor’s hat. The best criticism is always “X, Y, and Z suck, because…”. That then gives me a chance to address those issues before I make anything available to a wider audience.

I must be prepared to do exactly the same in return. Everything here is reciprocal. So I am better at editing my own work, thanks to experience suggesting edits to my partner’s.

And I guess that is the first hurdle. Somebody’s writing must not only be good as the finished article, but it must be good enough, as a first draft, to engage me. In that respect, I’m lucky.

I have a vague goal for a partner. Simply, that they “improve” what I write. And they do. 100%. Many times it is just a no-brainer word replacement. Fresh eyes, fresh brain, fresh ideas.

Even if they suggest something and I flatly reject it, they add value, because if it raises a red flag for them, it will likely raise a red flag for other readers, too. It’ll maybe tell me that I’ve been ambiguous, that I probably need to go back and rewrite something to add clarity.

It’s a nice feeling, because they must think I add value, too. They might ask me once, but if I gave bad feedback, they wouldn’t ask again. They’ll be using exactly the same “improve” criteria to judge me, as I am to judge them.

It introduces a time lag, of course, because we both have other lives. We can’t expect each other to just drop everything to read each other’s work. For me, if I can, I will. If I can’t, I can’t. But certainly in the amateur environment in which I write, producing something good is far more important than producing it quickly. And in the case of my partner and I, we do tend to turn things around quite quickly – for me, I look forward to reading their material anyway, and I guess that is mutual. They’ll use overall words like “fun”, where if they didn’t actually think that, there’d be no need to say anything.

We don’t send each other everything. That would probably be too testy. All those limericks I write are entirely my own. And, when I do my weekly “news” post, that’s just regurgitating something I already read. But anything creative, fiction of any length, poetry sometimes (although a lot of my poetry I want to keep private), having a partner comes into its own.

I write for fun. Strictly amateur, so I don’t really feel like I am in a position to give advice. I can just say that I feel both my writing and my editing have improved because I have a partner. I just think I can’t be the only one.

Author: Mister Bump UK

Designed/developed large IT systems, interrupted by a stroke in 2016, aged 48. Now mix development of health-related software with voluntary work and writing. Married, with an estranged daughter.

18 thoughts on “Team Effort”

        1. They suggest edits, I look at their suggestions and think, “yeah, that would make it better”. So, yeah, I am pleased because when I finally hit “go”, I think I’m publishing something better than if I’d just written it on my own in my cave.

          It’s encouraging me to reach out a bit more locally, just because this whole cross-pollination seems like a good thing.

          Liked by 2 people

  1. You have a piece of gold in your field – the hardest part of writing (with the goal of improving as you go) is finding the right writing (critiquing) partners. And keeping them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Maybe. Dunno. Not sure. The principle of having one is good, for sure. Would it be difficult to replace them? Possibly. There are one or two writers, even on here, who write so well that it would be a buzz to be a part of their creation process. But only, really, one or two of the hundreds I read. Maybe they’d feel the same about my writing? But, I mean, those odds must get better if you seek out dedicated writing groups, where people’s interests will broadly coincide.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, the odds don’t improve. Group dynamics for writers are the same as group dynamics for any of the artistic or high-pressure jobs/situations. There are those who think they lead, those who don’t want to make a wave (won’t say anything critical, even with guidelines), those who refuse to listen. Same as the real world, really.
        A diamond who gives and takes and doesn’t expect more is a rare thing, indeed.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. It is a good idea to have a writing partner. I would love the same for my writing. Sometimes it is good to read someone else’s to appreciate your own. It’s why I love being part of a writing group, but I am looking for someone to read mine once it is finished, and I can read theirs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s a great idea. I wouldn’t want to be without one, now. I’m not in any writing groups but I have started looking now that I am moving about again. Obviously it’s premature to think in terms of partnerships, but one day, you never know.
      The way my partner and I made contact originally was through the contact form on this blog. They must have seen some potential so they got in touch and it bloomed from there. But, totally out of the blue. And we’ve kinda loosely become friends as a result, just the odd message here and there.

      Like

  3. An acknowledgement in a novel I’m reading (ex libris):
    I am fortunate to have an insightful and ruthless group of critique partners. Their suggestions … ranged from ‘delete comma’ to ‘more feelings’ to the ever-distressing ‘DIB – Do It Better’. In reprisal …

    We all need those unbiased and blunt comments about the piece (the work, not the person).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. There are sometimes areas which are weak, so I say so, but without necessarily offering input on how I think it could be better. But that’s OK, I think, just to raise a flag – you should think more about this part

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      1. Raising a flag means the writer gets the view of a reader, and there’s no one more important than the reader, so how they read it means more than anything else. If there’s something that stops the flow of the story, it needs to be sliced and diced and shoveled until it’s clear and precise in meaning and context.
        This deep-dive into what it is wouldn’t have happened if the flag wasn’t raised, and there lies the risk of obscurity when a reader puts the story down for lack of understanding.
        A bit like proofreading – we read what we think is there, so we can’t proofread our own work.

        Liked by 1 person

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