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05/14/2002 - WRITE WITH A BUDDY


Dear Friends,

Over the past couple of months, this column has turned into a listing for productivity tools that have helped me over the years. I won't review the whole list this week, but if you're curious, you can go back to last week. I believe this is about the eighth technique I've listed in this stretch, and I never thought I'd get beyond the first three.

When you're slowing down on your writing, or having trouble finishing something, I'd like you to consider writing with a buddy. I'm not saying that you should partner up with someone - only that you might want to consider meeting fellow writers, sharing goals, and setting deadlines for each other. Make it a friendly competition, for instance - where you have to turn in outlines to each other by midnight Friday night, or first drafts, or finished scripts.

Certainly, make those deadlines reachable, but also push yourself and your writing buddy a little, too. The key is to use one of the other techniques I mentioned, and set lots of smaller goals that only take a week or two. If one person doesn't get the writing done in time, they have to buy lunch and, worse, endure chiding from the person who hit the goal.

This is one reason that writing groups sometimes can be very empowering. You're not writing in a vacuum, so you can't get away with putting off your project week in and week out, because others know exactly where you are. Granted, there are disadvantages, too, as some writers aren't very good at giving constructive criticism. But that's like any relationship - you just have to search to find writers who are compatible with your material and your style. Also, you might want to have them read a column I wrote last year on the proper way to give constructive criticism.

If you're writing on all cylinders, then by all means, keep it up and don't let yourself get slowed down with the details of setting up a writing group. But if you find yourself too often derailed, you might just want to consider changing your behavior and connecting with some fellow writers. It could be just the thing to spark you to get back on track.

It's a technique I've used numerous times in the past. For now, though, I'm . . .

Going solo,



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