Tough Love


–GoDaddy stock photo


I have a dear writer friend with whom I talk everyday. We don’t always talk about work, but yesterday she told me it was time to “stop messing around” and finish my proposal for the novel I’ve been dithering with for the past two months. “You’re out of time.”

“But…but…my daughter’s wedding! Ordering things! Cleaning! And what about taxes?” I whined. Except I knew she was totally on target. I’d been resisting, fretting that this novel couldn’t possibly match the promise of the one I’d just turned in. She didn’t respond that I was being foolish, or that I could also get those other important things done. “This is your job,” she said. “If you don’t do your job, you get fired.”

Damn, the truth can hurt. But truth it is. If I don’t write consistently and spend time imagining, plotting out, and writing at least one book and a story or two every year, I get wound up in my own head and go a little crazy. Also, publishing could very well leave me behind. It happens to professional writers all the time. It’s happened to me. Once you have hold of the train, you have to keep moving to stay caught up.

Resistance–real and imagined–provides me with plenty of excuses not to get down to my work. It’s an old, tired story. Writing is my true love, but I can only get it done if I work in spite of my resistance. (This is our theme song.)

I feel awfully fortunate to have someone in my corner who understands what I care about. She focuses my attention on reality instead of standing by and watching me substitute busyness for business. Writing can be such a lonely endeavor. The isolation and the living-in-one’s-own-head can put us at risk for depression or make us twitchy with neuroses. When you spend a lot of time in places that aren’t actually real, the boundary between reality and daydreams blurs.

Having a friend who keeps it real–at least when it counts–can make all the difference in the world. And sometimes you get the privilege of doing the same for her.

If you don’t have one already, make a friend of a another writer. Support that writer and you’ll be helping yourself.

So, TKZers. Where do you get support for your work? What can you offer another writer?



This entry was posted in Writing and tagged , by Laura Benedict. Bookmark the permalink.

About Laura Benedict

Laura Benedict is the Edgar- and ITW Thriller Award- nominated author of eight novels of suspense, including The Stranger Inside (Publishers Weekly starred review). Her Bliss House gothic trilogy includes The Abandoned Heart, Charlotte’s Story (Booklist starred review), and Bliss House. Her short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and in numerous anthologies like Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads, The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers, and St. Louis Noir. A native of Cincinnati, she lives in Southern Illinois with her family. Visit her at

19 thoughts on “Tough Love

  1. Yes, I can tell you from experience it doesn’t help when you have a writer friend who writes even less than you do! (Do not try this at home, folks. 😎

    Having someone who can speak candidly with you about your writing and writing goals yet not be obnoxious is a great gift.

    • BK! As the person in the relationship who writes less, I feel a bit guilty. But we all have different gifts, yes?

      **I edited this comment because the second part was for the next comment. Got ahead of myself. Sorry!

  2. Laura- Your definition of dithering is probably my definition of working really hard. 🙂

    I take workshops where we critique each other’s work, but I have yet to find a writing friend who works as much as I do. Whoever I try talking to either hasn’t written in a while or hasn’t worked on anything but what they’re getting edited.

    • AZAli, that sounds very frustrating. You are in the right place to search out other writers. As you’re a regular contributor here, you might discover another commenter you might want to reach out to. Conferences, Sisters in Crime are good places to look, too.

  3. Since I just got back from a beach week with a writing friend who used to be part of my crit group, this is a timely post. This time I worked on her material to brainstorm the plot and details of 4 books in a new series, and came up with promo tag lines, etc. In the past when she lived near me, we got together often and she inspired me with her positive support and generosity with ideas & promo tips. When you find the right writer friend, it’s a give and take without keeping score, because it’s a joy that gives volumes in return. I learn so much whether I’m giving or receiving.

    • That sounds like a fun and rewarding trip, Jordan. How wonderful that you have such a friend. Helping another writer can be such a rush. Creative synergy is so powerful. You have always been so supportive of my work, and your posts here and critiques are always full of great advice–you’re a lovely, generous woman. The past 11 years have been a long, strange, exciting trip, don’t you think?

  4. In my office I have two photos facing my desk. One is Evan Hunter/Ed McBain, looking right at me from the back cover of one of his books. The other is John D. MacDonald seated at his typewriter. Two of the most productive writers of all time, who wrote every day, and brooked no excuses. If I’m dogging it, I hear them chew me out.

  5. Aww, I’m so glad you found such a good friend. I’ve been lucky to connect with so many kind and generous writer friends who always have my back. I have theirs, too. It’s important to have writer friends. No one else truly understands how we operate, or the struggles we face. The writing community as a whole is filled with the most fascinating, generous, caring people I’ve ever met, and I feel blessed to walk among them. Great post, Laura.

  6. My writing friends are closer than family.

    One of our members died several years ago. Jacquie didn’t want a funeral but in her will, she’d set aside money to take the whole writing gang out to dinner at a nice restaurant where we could tell Jacquie stories. About twenty-five of us had a lovely evening reminiscing. Then we went back to her waterfront home where her children scattered her ashes in the river. A pair of Mallard ducks came swimming by at that exact moment. We figured they were escorting her to her next writing assignment.

    Am I blessed? Oh yeah.

  7. Helping others turns out to be helping myself as well. I got enormous help from a friend, who I consider being one of my dearest cheerleaders, through my first novel. Now I have published 9 books plus 2 on my website and try to help others to make progress.
    Just yesterday, I lead a seminar on how to turn various projects and project management into fun games. I also mentioned how I gamify writing (that is, how I turn it into a fun game).
    After the seminar, and I think due to the enthusiasm and great feedback from those who participated, I got motivated and inspired back to work on one of the writing projects I procrastinated for several days.
    I love this kind of inspiring circle. 🙂

  8. I am in a local Writers’ Group (monthly meetings) for my WIP noir and two online crit groups (monthly) for books 1 and 2 of my WIP Sci-fi series. I get more from the face-to-face meetings than just critiques: they are small social occasions. I keep in touch with the local and online members between critique rounds. I also try to get to the big Sci-fi conventions to meet up again with old contacts and have something new to brag about. These various events and submission rounds all provide targets to be met and although it can be a sweat to meet the deadlines, they keep me in line. And I always say, “nothing worth doing is easy”. 😉

  9. Laura, how wonderful that you have such a writer friend. I don’t, but I’m on my first book, so I expect it’ll take some time to find someone. Perhaps through one of the local NaNoWriMo groups when November rolls around . . ..

    Until then, I’ll have to be my own writer friend and tell myself to get off the Internet and go get today’s quota done! (Whip sound.)

  10. Last week in my critique group, one writer read a story about how happy she was her husband was going fishing for a week and she could just write, write, write. And you guessed it–the rest of the story told about how she frittered away most of the time, got down to writing on day 5, and felt guilty and stressed for the last two days.

    Everyone in our group could tell the same story.

    I get that we resist, but why? Fear? Procrastination? Time management issues. What?

  11. I’m lucky to have an everything-I’m-doing-this-week accountability buddy. She and I set goals and follow up on the action we’ve taken in weekly phone calls. Then there’s my intention buddy. We connect once a month by phone to create the kind of energy we want to manifest into our work. And I’m lucky to participate in an inspiring writing group. I meet with them once a month to share and critique our latest chapters, articles, and of course, our dreams.

    Writing and editing are solitary pursuits. I couldn’t do it without the positive reinforcement, and gentle (okay, sometimes not so gentle) pushes my buddies and I give each other.

  12. Pingback: Writing Links…3/26/18 – Where Genres Collide

Comments are closed.