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Find writing success with a buddy

Everyone should have a writing buddy. My blogging partner Carol Despeaux and I have been writing together since we met at a writing conference three years ago and realized we were both working on memoirs.

Over the past several years, we’ve critiqued each other’s work, brainstormed story ideas, and given each other pep talks (“Go Speedwriter Go”).  We’ve shared writing craft ideas, teaching resources, and favorite books.

We feel that with each other’s support, we can progress faster with our writing goals. Because Carol knows my “story,” she can offer insights and point out meaning that I might not see because I’m too close to it. She can spot areas that aren’t clear or could benefit from elaboration. And I do the same for her.

When I need a laugh, she sends me a funny photo of her cats Simba, Precious, and Teddy Bear. And when she needs to smile, I send her the latest photo of Mr. Cat.

Not long after I met Carol, we read a blog post by writer Nita Sweeney about a concept called “body double.” In Sweeney’s post, she wrote about her difficulty writing when she was distracted and how the presence of another writer – a body double – helped her focus. Sweeney noted the concept she had learned from organizational expert Linda Anderson, who said, “The body double serves as a physical and emotional anchor for the distracted individual who feels more centered by the presence of another person in their space.”

Carol and I have our share of distractions as most writers do — juggling jobs, family and household tasks. After learning about the body double concept, we tried it ourselves. By quietly writing together in the same place, we reflected the discipline each of us needed. The body double principle not only works for distracted writers, it has been known to benefit people diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.

If you don’t have a writer buddy close by, you can experience the same benefit from working quietly in the same room with someone who is doing craft projects, knitting, or office work. I’ve even written to the white noise soundtrack of someone strumming his guitar.

Writing is by its nature a solitary task, but life – and writing — can benefit from the insight of a buddy.

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