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The Buddy System

I haven’t been at this “try-to-be-successful-with-my-writing” gig for too long. And I know everyone will define success for their writing journey a little different. For me, I am interested in traditional publishing. I have stories in my head that will someday grace shelves. Some of those stories may work better indie published, but I know that some will fit in a much larger scope. I have a bunch of steps to take on that journey. Sometimes it’s a struggle to keep focused, stay positive, and keep moving forward. But there’s one thing I’ve learned that has drastically impacted my writing:

It’s dangerous to go alone.

I’ve spoken with many authors who marvel at realizing there are others like them. They feel alone, they know they need help with their craft, understanding editing, brainstorming, and everyone could use a little encouragement. No matter our genre of choice. Whether we write for the CBA, ABA, or we write for our grandmother:

We are all on this journey together!

Strolling in to my first writer’s conference, I was by myself, unsure of my writing ability, and was sure I was the only person who thought a dragon causing the Great Chicago Fire was a good story idea. By the end of the night, I had found my tribe. I still had/have craft issues, but my journey toward writing success had gained a fellowship.

There’s a group of guys that I have kept in pretty much daily contact with over the past three years. We call ourselves the “Cap’s Chaps” because who doesn’t want to be like Captain America? We claim that someday we’ll be on a panel together at a con of some sort. Sometimes we joke about using each other in our stories (don’t put me in the spider box, JJ) and sometimes we share first drafts and cringe while we wait for feedback. When one of us has a prayer request, we cover each other in prayer. Most days we just share the Shia Lebouf “do it! meme. I know that if I reach out to them and say I’ve had a rough day, these brothers will be there to encourage and speak life. What started as “Hey, you’re wearing a Captain America shirt, too!” has turned into something eternal.

At this point you’re probably saying, “Josh, that’s great for you. You’re an extroverted guy. You dive in and are… open. I could never do that.” I don’t have a formula for you to find your tribe. I wish I did. There’s not a secret to finding that inner circle who get your Space Balls jokes, and aim to misbehave as much as you do. It literally takes time and effort.  But most of all, it takes courage.

Maybe the thought of meeting people and accepting critiques gives you heart palpitations. If you’re serious about your writing, and you believe with all your soul that God has called you to share in His creativity, then you owe it to yourself and to your gift to step out and be strong and courageous. I can’t promise that you’ll never get hurt, or won’t get an over-opinionated critique, but I can say that you’ll grow. And most of the time, growing hurts.

Relationships are important in the Kingdom of God.

Are you a part of a critique group? You can type in almost any genre into the Facebook search and find a writing group. I’m a pretty enthusiastic champion for the Realm Maker’s cause. We’re a great group of geeks, and I’d love for you join the Consortium. I had started a summer critique group through David Farland’s website a few years ago. There are also good resources on Writer’s Digest, critique.org, and many NYT best seller authors have critique workshops. I’d love to hear how to stay sane and find community in the writing world. Comment below!

Here’s my challenge for you: You know that friend who also likes portal fantasy? Or Werewolf romance fanfic? Or hard science fiction? Maybe you know they just to read. Ask them if they’d read something you’ve written. It’s a big ask. If you don’t have that friend, look me up on Facebook. I’d love to help you on your journey!

It takes courage to put your writing in the hands of another and ask for their opinion. But I can promise this: you’ll learn. You’ll grow. You’ll continue on your “try-to-be-successful-with-your-writing” gig. And who knows, maybe you’ll find your Cap’s Chaps along the way.

 

Check out what my chaps are up to:

http://jasoncjoyner.com/

http://jjjohnsonwrites.com/

http://zacharytotah.com/

https://joshuahardt.blogspot.com/

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2 comments on “The Buddy System

  1. This is so great, Josh. And so true. I wanted a tribe so badly that I started a writers group in the rural area where we live. (Disclaimer: Josh is in our group). I’m also part of a couple of bigger groups where I connect mostly online and at an annual conference. Sometimes, these relationships are the only thing that keep me from giving up on this crazy craft.

  2. This post speaks to me SO MUCH. Two long-distance buddies and I have formed a group very similar to your Cap’s Chaps, chatting daily.

    That was hands-down the best move I made for my writing career.

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