Kids who write need friends who write. Every writer needs friends. We need to be heard. Writing friends are special because they listen to our stories.
Friends believe us. They know the names of our characters, the places we’ve created and the challenges we face. They ask us questions. They cheer for us and laugh alongside us. They remind us about what we have forgotten.
I love to see kids sit next to each other in writing class. They don’t always read each other’s journals, but they frequently discuss their stories together.
Often, there is laughter.
It is lonely to make a new world. When we invite a friend – a real person – into this new place, we know we are not alone. Our friend has entered with us. She will help us get this place ready for other visitors: which is our greatest dream and biggest fear.
In writing class, many kids are ready to share their work immediately – sometimes we read to everyone at the end of the day – and some kids may take almost a year until they find someone they trust, or are ready to read to the group.
When a writer is afraid, often her friend will read her work aloud for her. This way she knows her work matters to us.
Sometimes our writing friends are the only ones who demonstrate that our work matters. Writing friends have many important jobs.
Writing friendships are delicate because writers tend to be sensitive. Something intended as an observation may be felt as a criticism. When spoken by one we trust, however, just such an observation can lead to growth. For example, a fourth grade student recently commented to another: “Your main characters are always girls.”
Instead of feeling hurt, this writer took the challenge. She wrote her next story outside of her comfort zone, with a fascinating new premise. The class begged to hear sections of her new story read aloud each week. When friends believe in us enough to listen carefully and tell the truth, everyone benefits.
We don’t need 500 friends. Anyone – kids or adults – would be lucky to have one or two true friends.