The Writing Process–Staying Motivated and The Buddy System

May 12th, 2014

News, On Writing


At the last conference I went to in Madison, Nathan Bransford presented a workshop on writing a novel. He spoke of the many pieces of the puzzle that turn an idea into an entire book. Much of his presentation resonated with me, but a light bulb went on in my head when he said, “I tend not to trust writers that profess how much they love to write.” I don’t want to misquote Mr. Bransford, but what stuck with me was this,

“Writing is hard. I don’t always like to write, but I like reading what I’ve written.”

So How to Get There from Here?

From writing to being written is work. A lot of hard work. I confess, sometimes my spirit sags, my fingers freeze up and my brain is just plain tired. My snappy dialogue turns to mush and all my character sound alike. Ugh! So I search for motivators. Anything to recharge and keep my head spinning with fresh words and interesting characters. Sitting in a chair and writing takes a lot of work. Motivation and pure determination are necessary. Unfortunately, these two ingredients get low fast or run out completely. Here are some ideas to keep them in stock.

Use the Buddy System

I honestly don’t think I’d be where I am without the sage advice and weekly meetings with my critique partner. Carla Cullen writes young adult and I write contemporary romance, but the difference in genres is irrelevant when the goal is the same — to keep writing. A critique partner is a real, in-your-face, can’t-let-anyone-down motivator.

How the Buddy System works

If my CP has something for me to read it’s a priority. I don’t want to let her down. After all, she reviewed the 1st version of my mind-altering synopsis and clarified it! So, our weekly meetings keep me and my writing time on track. Have to have something for Carla is one of my mantras. With that playing in my head, I don’t avoid my laptop or seek out distractions. The buddy system makes me accountable. It works in the purest fashion by using good old-fashioned fear. I can’t show up empty-handed and look like a slacker! And 10 words or 250 words on that 1st page or 2500 words (one whole chapter) ALL COUNT! Writing becomes something written!

Working with a buddy has another upside besides accountability. When the seeds of discouragement plant themselves in my brain, one rejection or bad revision after another, the buddy can be a cheerleader. She or he can reset your sights back on the goal quickly and happily. It’s so easy to fall away from that keyboard and stay away from it when you’re discouraged. A slight set back can easily become a writer’s worst enemy: zero words on the page. The buddy system keeps writers in check and helps them to stay on course. Carla said it best, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Writer Buddies are the Best:

Besides critique partners, other writers make great cheerleaders. They love talking about writing. And they like to read. Guess how it works best for your written work to sell? One buddy tells another buddy. It’s this cool circle of writing life. When I met Kimberli Bindschatel, she became one of my 1st writer friends. We met at a critique group during a Madison workshop Weekend with Your NovelI had submitted my 1st contemporary romance, while all the others in the group had written young adult novels. When I read the first chapter of Kimberli’s book, Path to the Sun I became a fan. It was wonderful to read. Thanks to the critique session, she became a buddy. Kimberli’s story gave me the enjoyment of reading a terrific book out of my comfort zone. Now it’s published and available on Amazon! 

Since, we’ve connected at conferences to give one another support and updates. The buddy system at work again: accountability. I know that annually, at the UW Writer’s conference, I need something new to talk about with Kimberli. What better than the first 2500 words on my latest WIP?

Digging around to find out what keeps you writing is easier said than done. Sometimes I simply tell myself, “I’ll be happier at the end of the day if I just sit and write a paragraph.” Although my inner Stuart Smalley works occasionally, the buddy system has yet to fail me.

Below are links to Kimberli’s newsletters and her website: and her newsletter link is

And in the spirit of this blog hop here is Carla’s website:

Also, because I like to talk about writing, I’m posting another writer’s link. Since Amy and I tweeted about 1st person POV vs. 3rd person POV I think it motivated me to get this post finished!

Of course, check out the good stuff that Nathan Bransford has to offer here,

For the month of May I’m writing on motivators that have worked for me.  In next week’s blog?  Jumping out of your head and looking around outside for ideas!

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