How six author friends fuel the fire and keep the stories flowing – Julie Cantrell

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By Julie Cantrell

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

1. Sprint: The Summit Girls frequently send a group text message something like: “Anyone want to sprint at 10?” Those who accept will devote one-hour to uninterrupted writing time. At 11, for example, we check back in and share screenshots of wordcounts, trying to meet at least 1000 words per hour. Creating these accountability check-ins has proven to be an effective strategy, helping us to reduce distractions and focus on writing.

2. Cheer: We celebrate our victories as a group. The Summit Girls are always eager to share shout-outs on social media and spread the good news about our writer pals. This reminds us all that we are not alone in this journey and helps build our readership across platforms.

3. Model: With various levels of experience, we each bring something different to the table. We appreciate those various skills and enjoy teaching one another. We don’t believe in re-creating the wheel, and the more we can reduce stress for a fellow Summit Girl, the better.

4. Critique: There is no more important tool for a writer than a trusted critique partner. The Summit Girls read one another’s work, offer constructive criticism, and help polish stories until they shine.

5. Encourage: Whether through brainstorming, offering plot support, assisting with character development, or sharing media connections for press coverage, the Summit Girls want nothing more than to see all six of us sustain long, healthy, happy careers as full-time novelists. When one of us in the slumps, we rally the troops and lift spirits until we’re all at our best again. While writers may be able to hire coaches, editors, and PR firms to handle the other four points, there is nothing more important in life than sincere moral support and friendship.

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.

Julie Cantrell is an award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling novelist and TEDx presenter whose fourth novel, Perennials, hit shelves November 14, 2017. She is honoured to be a Summit Girl with novelist friends Christa Allan, Judy Christie, Jenny B. Jones, Carla Stewart, and Lisa Wingate.

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