The Benefits of Bouncing

Given what I do, it’s no surprise that I take more than a passing interest in the avalanche of writerly advice available online. And nestled in amongst all the apps, infographics, gimmicky utensils and blogs there’s occasionally some really useful advice.

But there’s something I hardly ever see – and that’s articles extolling the virtues of talking through your ideas with a buddy.
I understand why some people rear back in horror at the thought of sharing their ideas or exposing half formed pieces. But as you know from my musings on Writing Groups, I’m a big fan of seeking constructive feedback from a like-minded chum. It’s a no-brainer to have your completed work objectively assessed, edited and critiqued before you publish or send out into the world – but what about while you’re stuck in the thick of it?

I always have questions and doubts while I’m writing. Is that first sentence powerful enough? Is that line funny? Does this moment feel emotionally engaging? Is the end of the scene strong enough? Is this idea actually a bit crap? That sort of thing.

And who do I turn to in these moments? A writing buddy – that’s who.

That is, another writer with whom I share a mutually beneficial relationship, a person I can safely bounce thoughts and ideas off – and who will also bounce ideas off me. This person isn’t a writing partner, they’re just someone willing to occasionally be your sounding board – and wants you to be theirs.

In my case these mutually beneficial relationships tend to evolve organically but if you don’t have such a person in your life – here’s 7 reasons why I think you should think about finding one.

1) It’s really cheap.
2) It’s a time effective way to get quick feedback – minimal reading required.
3) Another writer will understand immediately when you say I want to bounce my idea off you. They’ll automatically join you in fiction land in a way non-writers can’t. You’ve already got a shorthand.
4) It’s supportive. Talking about your idea can help you feel less alone when you’re writing.
5) It can inspire and stimulate new thinking around your project.
6) It challenges you to be a better writer.
7) It can help get you move past procrastination.
8) It can help you hone your analytical skills.

Finding the Ideal Writing Buddy:

• Look around your immediate social circle for someone whose opinion you trust.
• Look for someone like you with similar goals to yours.
• Look for someone outside your primary relationship – the feedback will be more objective.
• Look for someone who will give back as much as they get.
• Get more than one! Different people have different skill sets and talents.

Being the Ideal Writing Buddy:

• Pull your weight.
• Treat your conversations as confidential.
• Give generous and constructive feedback in your discussion.
• Consider their objectives rather than telling them how you would do it.
• Offer possible solutions but don’t be offended if they’re not accepted.

And finally respect your buddy’s time.

This is a casual, occasional thing. Nobody wants daily emails or phone calls from a needy writer – no, really, even if you are the most adorable creature on the planet, they really don’t.

Best of luck finding your buddy – your craft will thank you for it!

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