Imagine six female novelists. One quiet mountain retreat. Three days of intense power-packed creative sessions (plus a hefty stash of chocolate). That’s how our writing tribe was formed. Today, we’re a supportive sisterhood now calling ourselves the Summit Girls.
Who Are the Summit Girls
The Summit Girls are comprised of six female novelists from the U. S. who gathered together this spring to brainstorm plots, critique writing samples, and offer encouragement. With more than 80 books published between us, as well as a few scripts, screenplays, and a long string of articles, our diverse backgrounds provide unique perspectives as we help to shape one another’s stories.
Although we had been friends for years (some longer than others), we had never carved time for a retreat until this year. Setting aside one long weekend proved to be a pivotal decision for all of us. Not only have our friendships deepened, but we now rely on one another to foster more successful careers as novelists.
Five Ways Writing Partners Can Improve Each Other’s Work
How to Find a Writing Partner
Writing can be an isolative career, but by finding at least one trusted partner, novelists can help fuel one another’s creative spirits, offer moral and professional support, and push one another to be the most effective and efficient writers we can be.
To find a partner, try attending a writing conference where like-minded souls are in search of feedback and peer support. Also join social media chats about publishing, especially those within your specific genre (romance, sci-fi, women’s fiction, etc.)
In addition to joining online forums, it’s a good idea to connect with writing groups in your local community. If no writing groups are currently active in your community, consider launching one. You might be surprised how grateful and helpful other writers are once you dare to gather together.
Do you have any other tips for us? Do you have writing partners? How have they helped?
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Julie Cantrell is an award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling novelist and TEDx presenter whose fourth novel, Perennials, hit shelves Nov. 14, 2017. She is honored to be a Summit Girl with novelist friends Christa Allan, Judy Christie, Jenny B. Jones, Carla Stewart, and Lisa Wingate. Learn more about Julie’s work: www.juliecantrell.com
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Julie, I agree, a retreat with a few trusted writers can fuel you for a long time. I have a group, The L&L's: Darynda Jones, Susan Donovan, Lori Freeland and I. Last year was our first retreat in the mountains of New Mexico, and it was heaven. Writer rocket fuel!!!!
Can't wait for next year. I suggest EVERYONE do this if it's at all feasible!
Seriously, Laura. We had talked about it for years but had never really DONE it. We were all so grateful we made time for the retreat, and now we're promising to make it an annual event. Already planning our 2018 Summit. We don't spend a lot of money at all on this retreat. In fact, next time it will be at one of SG homes... no rental fee. We all work on a budget and it can be done. Glad you have a scribe tribe. It helps!!!
(And thanks for inviting me to your lovely blog today. Honored.)
I love this! I have a single critique partner whom I take writing retreats, and those weekends are some of my most productive times. But I also know the benefit of working with a group and getting encouragement and feedback from multiple friends. Great idea!
And I need you for sprints! Oh, how I need you. 🙂
Seriously, the group mindset really does help keep us all positive. LIke a family unit, we lift one another when we start to get in the slumps. And man, those sprints really do hold us accountable. Now I need an accountability partner to make me go for an actual run every day too! (sigh)
I love the idea of a retreat. I have a great critique group, honest, funny and talented. We count on each other to make our writing the best it can be and to support us when the writing won't happen. I am eternally grateful to their wisdom and their loyalty.
Glad you have found a writing group, Mary. Nothing better!
heartily agree. I would mention that WFWA has a great vehicle for finding critique partners - links can be found on the web-site. That's how I found my first two writing friends (Patricia and Barbara, I'm pointing at you!) and we were then able to meet in person a year later at Albuquerque as old and trusted friends.
Maggie, what a great resource. I have to admit... I've had WFWA on my "to do" list for a year now... and I haven't had a chance to join and get invovled. I'm aching to do so. I hear so many good things about that group, and I know I'd love to meet more female authors. We have to keep lifting one another! Maybe this is the nudge I've been needing.
Okay, Julie, I'm holding you accountable - GO JOIN!! Seriously the most helpful, no-ego, welcoming group I've ever been a member of.
I think most women are better at this than most men. I've shared writing with a number of writers, but the relationships seem to peter out over time. Perhaps getting together in person is what's needed to cement the connection!
Another Take, I have heard this from several male writers who have since found support in local writer's critique groups. Also, some of my male author friends go "for drinks" once a week at the local pub. They don't call it a writing group, but they are bonding and offering support for one another within their comfort zone. I know they rely on one another as much as my female friends do. They just don't always admit it 🙂 I hope you find your people and keep writing. Thanks for joining the chat.
I attended a retreat with writer friends in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. We had a wonderful time and I was able to finish my WIP which snagged me an agent, a Golden Heart and a publishing contract.
So yes, I am in favor of retreats and will forever be grateful for that one!
BIG CHEERS, Carrie! Congrats. Nothing inspires me more than nature, and I have been drawn to the Blue Ridge lately. Itching for a visit very soon.
I want to go back Carrie!!!!
Best description of the need for a critique group I've seen. Thank you, Julie.
Awww... thanks so much, Nance. I appreciate your kind note. Have a wonderful Wednesday! j
Thanks for this post! As an extrovert and busy working mom, I NEED that external accountability and input. It is super helpful.
I hear you, Jenny. If you're like me, you run non-stop and tend to put less urgent things on the back burner until someone holds us to the flame. That's why the sprint challenges really work for me.
That's exactly right, Julie. And I ADORE group sprints.
This sounds marvelous! Thanks for the inspiration.
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You are absolutely right about small writing groups. My Writing Sisters and I met five years ago at a week-long writing retreat. We get together once a year, stay at a B&B, and spend the weekend catching up and helping each other with our latest projects. They are treasures!
I could use a writer's retreat.
[…] Editing makes our work shine—but it can be costly. Lisa Poisso wonders: when we pick editors, can be combine steps to save money?; P.J. Parrish takes a hard look at rewriting, and Julie Cantrell points out how writing partners help—and where to find them. […]