I have a few hundred Facebook friends. Out of all of them there are maybe thirty or forty who have any semblance of an interest in writing or literature. Fewer still actively write, and I would only consider sharing my early drafts with a handful of them. These ‘writing friends’ are not only writers whose work and opinions on craft I admire, but they have also helped me in many ways. They’ve pushed me through drafts I thought were dead in the water, broadened my reading horizions with books I never would have picked up on my own, and helped me improve my writing as a whole. I’m always happy to look at a manuscript they might be working on, or to be a sounding board for their new ideas for novels or short stories. These kind of relationships are the ones that have gotten me through the more difficult times of being a writer. Not that family and loved ones aren’t great, but there’s no substitute for a friend who is right there with you in the thick of it.
I met most of my close writing friends through my MFA program. Sharing the same deadlines gives a powerful sense of camaraderie, since we’re all working against the same clock. Of course, not all writing relationships are formed in the classroom (though it is certainly one of the main ways). I’ve met other writers at readings, library-sponsored events, and even online. If you are looking for ways to meet new writers, check for events in your community. And if you already have an established circle of writer friends, it can’t hurt to go to those events anway. You just might meet that shy, new writer and open up his or her world.
So nourish your writing relationships, and let them change you for the better. Find another writer (or two) whose work you enjoy and keep in touch with them. Read each other’s work, hash out new story ideas, or even start a project together. Writing is by its nature a lonely craft, but don’t let that stop you from forging meaningful relationships with others who are enduring the same trials and tribulations that you are. At the end of the day, we all get by with a little help from our friends.