Keys to a Successful Writing Partnership, Part 1

Teacher and Student Discussing Paper

I was going through some notes for blog posts the other day and came across this Scripture: Proverbs 14:5 NLT An honest witness does not lie; a false witness breathes lies.

My initial reaction was, why did I include this verse in notes for a writing blog?

After praying over it, I remembered the inspiration behind it. I was thinking about writing partners and what are the key components of an excellent relationship between writers. This week I’m beginning a series on what I’ve discovered to be key qualities in a successful writing partner relationship.

I’ve had some excellent writing partners. We could share boldly and openly without holding back, knowing the other had our best interests at heart. These relationships developed as we worked together and learned each other’s unique strengths. The best started in critique groups where I seemed to connect on a deeper level with one or two other people. The qualities I’m sharing today began as seeds in the critique group. The potential partner seemed to get me and what I was trying to say through my stories. In the Christian world, we frequently hear the words ‘divine appointment’ used to characterize a relationship God-ordained. My best writing partnerships did indeed have the hand of God on them.

The first quality I want to explore is:


Our partner must be someone we can trust on several levels. First, we don’t need a partner to tell us what they think we want to hear. If that’s what we’re looking for, the perfect writing partner will be in the mirror. They will also be the least helpful writing partner we could ever have.

A partner who tells us things to pull us down and boost themselves up is not honest. They aren’t seeking to help us grow. The partner relationship is not a competition to see who’s better. If you want to be better than your partner, go bowling.

Honesty from our partner helps us develop the thick skin we need to withstand the rejections in the larger writing world. An honest partner will show us where we have weaknesses. It might be in our characters, in our dialogue, the believability of our story, or any of a myriad (I like that word) of the other factors that go into crafting a story.

Do they need to be experts in the craft? Not really. But they need to be passionate about writing well and they need to be committed to telling us where we seem to be missing something and to offer help in getting better.

We can be honest without being brutal. Harsh words, sarcasm, scoffing doesn’t help a writer improve. Put-downs and trash-talking don’t build a healthy relationship. Speak from our hearts, but use words that edify, not tear down.

What qualities do you look for in a writing partner?


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