The Power of a Partner


Writing is a solitary act, mostly. You need to sit somewhere and move your fingers across the keys or push your pen over the paper. Although it is a solitary act, it is good to have a companion along for the ride (write).

I met Thea at the first workshop I attended with Natalie Goldberg. She was waiting at the hotel desk at the Fechin Inn when I arrived. Thea came from Virginia, but had visited Austin often. One point of entry, and we started talking. We wrote together over and over during the five-day workshop and got to know each other deeply through our writing. It was so hard to leave Thea and Taos when the workshop was over. I was afraid that the magic would dissolve and that I would forget everything I had learned there. Natalie suggested that we find a local writing group or partner to keep our momentum going.

Thea and I stayed in touch, and about a month after returning from Taos, we agreed to meet on a Sunday evening. We connected by phone, picked a topic, and set a timer for 15 minutes to write. When the timer went off, we jumped back on the phone and read what we had written. We repeated that sequence until our time was up. That was over ten years ago, and we are still meeting on Sunday evenings this way.

Having a writing partner deeply supports your writing journey. She is someone who cares about your writing, helps you show up, may provide editorial advice, and asks, “Hey, how is that piece coming along?” It is deeply nourishing to have a nonjudgmental listener to hear and reflect.

Here are some tips for getting started:

(1) To find a partner, go where writers hang out. Look at bookstores, cafes, and take classes or workshops. Use your social networks, and search for online writing groups.

(2) Don’t worry whether your partner is writing in the same genre as you or has more or less experience. Also, be willing to look outside of your geographic area. Technology makes it so easy to connect. What you need is someone who is similarly committed to writing, who is willing to meet you regularly, and with whom you feel comfortable sharing your work.

(3) Once you find a partner, set some intentions. What are you hoping to gain from the relationship? What are your writing goals? Do you want feedback or critiques? Do you just want someone to read or listen to you read your writing? How often will you meet? How do you want to structure your meetings?

(4) When you meet, get right to writing. It is easy to start chatting and use up your writing time. If you want to catch up, use “this is everything I want to tell you,” as a topic.

(5) After you’ve been meeting for a while, check-in with your partner about what’s working and what’s not. If at some point it’s not working, be willing to change things up.

If you need some support in your writing life right now, a partner may be just what you need. And, if you have trouble finding that just-right partner, Writership has the crewmate you’re looking for.

If you already have a writing partner, we’d love to hear about your experience. How did you find one another? How often do you meet? What do you love about having a writing partner? Do you have any fun rituals? Let us know in the comments!