“Books break the shackles of time–proof that humans can work magic.” – Carl Sagan.
Writing is an incredibly solitary act and sometimes being stuck working away alone in a room can be really daunting. I am terrible for obsessing over the smallest detail and worrying because I know the stories far too well. Normally when this hits, I go into a full blown panic and bin everything off for a good few months until I feel like I can face picking up a pen again. I’ve had many instances of people offering to help me out and then months go by with no feedback only to ask and find out they completely forgot to read my work.
My wonderful writing friend Freedom Matthews just so happened to be going through a similar experience and so I offered to help her with projects by doing a weekly skype session where we would talk over writing in general, how she best works and the sort of editing she was after. She would send me a chapter or two and, just like homework, I’d sit and read while making overall notes along with focusing on any specifics she wanted to know As we carried on like clockwork on mostly the same day and time every week, Freedom was nice enough to ask about my own projects and when I mentioned a few of my own niggles I had, she jumped at the chance to even the playing field by reading mine.
What started off as a small chat to help out a friend has grown into a beautiful and valuable writing partnership. We can be brutal (though normally followed by a flustering of apologies in case we upset the other) and gush over each other’s stories. But more importantly, it’s such a relief to know that whatever struggles we face each week, we have that one person to go to who understands the situation but isn’t going to sugar coat if something doesn’t make sense or clearly isn’t working. Every time I feel like the world is going to cave in, Freedom is there with her words of wisdom and I end the call feeling so motivated to finish what I’m working on.
Having a beta reader is incredibly useful for any writing project. Just knowing that I have an unbiased person on my side means the absolute world and I think it’s an absolute must, especially when you get too attached to the story because you know all the twists and turns so it can be harder to spot the issues. I hope Freedom and I continue our little team effort for a very long time and reach a point where we can champion each other even more by buying a billion copies of each other’s books.
Do you have a beta reader?
Who do you trust to read your work when you have a bad day?