However, even if you interview a prospect within an inch of their lives, there's something you have to find out that's just not able to be quantified. They have to make you better. They have to make you write. They have to have a connection with you that you can't fake, and you definitely can't force.
My critique partner from my Samhain Publishing days and I recently reconnected on the realization that we both needed to write despite real life kicking us in the ass on a daily basis. We are starting our second week of writing sprints every night during the week, and I'm shocked at the amount of words that have been flying from my fingers just by chatting with her nightly. As a side note, Angela, we are a hundred percent finishing these drafts before NaNo. ;)
And while I've done writing sprints with other people, and worked on stories with others, there is something magical when you connect with the right partner. I'm using the role of sprinting buddy and critique partner interchangeably here, because for me the lines blur.
More intangible things I implore you to look for in these writing connections....
1. Finding a connection outside of the writing world.
My CP and I both share some similar real life struggles. And while we definitely chit chat before we jump into writing, we still work. The work ends up being better because we know the other will hold us accountable, but understand when we're not on top of our game.
Chatting with a friend (not just a colleague) on a daily basis goes a long way toward making you show up and practice the all important butt in chair writing that we all need.
2. Brainstorming sparks.
Sometimes people just make your muse stand up and pay attention. There's no real reason or explanation, but there is just something magical when it happens. When I chat with certain folks, the ideas come easier. That's a connection I'm not willing to let go of, no matter what life throws at us.
3. Productivity heightens.
Sometimes I'll get together with a group, and I can't concentrate. I went to a writing boot camp, and although I had a fantastic time, I only got a couple hundred words written. I was inspired to talk more about strategy, marketing, and other items with the folks there. When my CP and I sit down and bring up our WIPs, we write. And the words fly. We race, we keep moving forward, and we're both getting higher word count in less time than ever before.
4. Screwing up in front of them is A-Okay.
I had an idea that we should try out Discord to connect to each other instead of the shiny social media chat options. Only problem with this is neither of us knew how to use it. We spent the first hours going back and forth figuring things out. We're old. It was work. But we looked like idiots for a moment until we asked a 14-year-old for help and got our bearings. Thank goodness for teenagers.
My point is, we laughed about it. We weren't embarrassed. We worked together, and learned something new.
5. Desire to do it all again flares.
The biggest hurdle to a CP relationship is consistency. Lots of writers are prone to letting "creativity" take center stage. They want to only do things when they feel like they're in the zone. Whatever the hell that means. But when you find your connection and the stars line up, there is something in your body that pulls you toward your computer and work time with your CP.
Now you might be asking yourself..."That's all well and good, Roxy. But how the everloving fuck do I find that type of connection?"
You put yourself out there again and again and again. I've worked with quite a few different people, and we're all busy. When a professional relationship isn't working we go our separate ways. There are plenty of women I respect, and who I've read for or who have read for me. Many of those relationships didn't go beyond one manuscript. Why? Because we didn't have the connection. It's a bummer, but it's reality. And those women and I still chat. We still promote each other's projects, and we will still go out to the bars together given the opportunity. That's part of being an adult. And a part of this business.
Of all the things I've learned as I come up on my authorversary next month, I think being a true adult has been the biggest lesson. No editor, (at least no good one), is going to shit all over your career if you decide to go with another editor for a different project. No agent is going to blacklist you if you decide to part with their representation. Not all working relationships pan out, and this business is about working your way toward finding your tribe and who brings out the best in you.
Sometimes relationships end or go on hiatus for no fault of the parties involved. Sickness, moving, life changes, lots of stuff can throw us off track. But when you've got a CP like mine, you find your way back. Because magic happens when you get together.
I hope all of you find your magic squad. I'm so stoked to be finding my way back to mine.