Choosing a writing partner should not be an arbitrary decision. It’s like finding your husband or wife — you need real connection, understanding, intimacy, trust.
In some ways, you will be more open, more emotionally intimate, with your writing partner than your spouse.
After all, you need to share with them your deepest secrets, darkest desires, most hidden fears. All the sacred stuff you’d write about on your own, you must now share with another person. If you have unspoken feelings about your family, your parents, your spouse, your children, your sibling … and those feelings can somehow contribute to a story, character or scene … you need to share them.
You also need to let your partner into your writing process, something that’s not always easy to do, but you need to be comfortable enough with your writing partner to share your worst work, your sloppiest outlines, your lamest ideas.
Word to the wise: if you need someone to keep you on task, help you organize thoughts or research, schedule your writing day, etc … you don’t need a partner; you need an assistant.
A writing partner is a bona fide writer … and hopefully one you trust, respect, admire, and support enough so that — like a good marriage — you write better together than apart.
So … if you’re looking for a real writing partner, here are some tips:
• JOIN A WRITERS GROUP. Every city has writers groups. Some are for novelists, others for poets, others for nonfiction writers or playwrights. Whatever your medium or genre, find a group and you’ll immediately be introduced to writers and creative people. Hopefully, you’ll connect with one of them and eventually decide to write together. (And don’t be afraid to shop around a bit; the first writers group you try may not be the right fit … but maybe the sixth one will!)
• JOIN OTHER “LITERARY” GROUPS. This could be a book club, a movie club, a gaming group, a sci-fi collectors’ club … any group that shares your passions. If you’re a writer who loves this stuff, you’ll probably find others.
• WORK ON LOCAL FILM OR THEATER PRODUCTIONS. Independent productions, including regional or community theaters, are always looking for extra pairs of hands … so chip in! You’ll not only meet people as passionate about film, theater, TV, or storytelling as you are … but these places are packed with aspiring writers, directors, artists, and creators.
• TAKE A WRITING CLASS. Whether through a professional program at a major university or an adult ed class at a community college, you’ll immediately meet other people sharing your goal: writing something to sell or use. By working together and sharing your pieces each week, you’ll also get a sense of whose work your admire and enjoy … and who would be a good candidate for your partnership!
• MEET PEOPLE AT COFFEE SHOPS, BOOKSTORES, LIBRARIES … EVEN YOUR OFFICE. Do you always notice the same girl reading fantasy novels in your favorite corner of the bookstore? Do you keep running into the same guy in the library’s “new arrival” section? Literary types tend to frequent the same types of places, so don’t be afraid to reach out and introduce yourself! Also, many corporations nowadays host social gatherings or offer “extracurricular” activities for employees with similar interests: book clubs, hiking excursions, etc. Begin sniffing around these places; you’ll undoubtedly find people — and probably writers — who share your interests. (And go ahead and post flyers on bulletin boards or walls; musicians do this when looking for bandmates — why shouldn’t writers?!)
• JOIN ONLINE WRITERS GROUPS AND DISCUSSION BOARDS. I don’t know that this is the most “reliable” way to go … and personally, I wouldn’t want an out-of-town writing partner who I didn’t know well … but hey — online dating sometimes works, so I don’t see why this couldn’t! The key is to make sure you partner with someone you truly trust and mesh with; if you feel like you can gauge that over the Internet, then go for it! (As for Craigslist, Ana Maria, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with posting something on Craigslist. But just like with finding a spouse, it may not be the most efficient process. You may get no one … or you may find yourself inundated with responses. Either way, you don’t want to take the first candidate that comes along; your goal is to find the right special someone — not just a warm body.)
Good luck in your journey!