It’s my favorite proverb, “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” It’s also what I use as a plumb line in forming any relationship that I forge with other people, especially other authors. I always want to improve, to be a better husband, father, friend, writer; to be a better man. This rings true for authors supporting and uplifting their fellow writers. As authors, we should strive to surround ourselves with others who will help us grow in our craft. One of the greatest ways to do that is by surrounding myself with people who are going to encourage me to press forward instead of pulling me backward. Therefore, I look for certain character traits in people I want close to me.
The Value of Authors with Integrity
First, it's invaluable to connect with people who have integrity. Those who are honest and trustworthy will kindly point out ways we can improve our writing, as well as our lives. They won't falsely flatter but will give thoughtful, constructive feedback. We need writing peers who want the best for us, not those who will inflate our egos with insincere praise. And this goes beyond the writing world. I want honest, trustworthy people who will encourage me in the standards I have set for myself and our family. I don’t want people who are bad mouthing others or sowing discord. I prefer people who bring a positive aspect to life, always walking a faithful path.
Seek Out Enthusiastic Individuals
Furthermore, I look for upbeat people. Those who are constantly negative and gloomy can wear you down. I want friends who are going to lift me up and help me see the positive side of things as opposed to the darker. I want to hear laughter and see smiles more than be overshadowed by the storm clouds of a life that is determined to claim pity from all those around it. I want to be with people who have a hunger and thirst for life and are determined to squeeze every ounce out of it they can. That doesn’t mean there won’t be hard times or gloomy days. We all have them. But, there are those who make this the norm and not the exception.
Furthermore, I want this in my author world. Upbeat authors are a breath of fresh air. Writing can be a lonely endeavor most of the time, so finding positive people who rejuvenate our spirits keeps us motivated. Their enthusiasm fuels us to keep writing through rejections and writer’s block. They inspire us to aim higher and stretch our skills, trying new things and growing in our craft.
Connect with Fellow Dreamers
I also surround myself with dreamers. I don’t want to be with people who are happy to merely exist. Dreamers want to achieve something while walking the planet. They want to leave footprints, not just stir up dust. People who have goals they are working toward have an excitement about them that’s contagious. To be in the midst of these people drives me to work harder on my own dreams, to risk something instead of playing it safe. In addition, fellow authors who share the dream understand our passion for the craft. They push us to take risks, to follow our literary dreams no matter how unattainable they may seem. Their encouragement gives us the courage to send our work to bigger markets, self-publish a book, or finally finish that novel. They walk alongside us on the writing journey. What’s your dream? Find those who will encourage you to go for it.
Avoid Those Who Drain You
There are people who will dull your edges. They don’t care if you succeed in life because they don’t really care if they succeed. And the truth is, if you fail, they feel better about remaining where they are. They have no standards and even fewer ambitions. They aren’t there for the long haul and are usually absent when trouble comes. These are people best avoided and left behind. It’s the same in the writing community We must beware of authors who drain our energy with constant negativity, sapping our creativity with their cynical attitudes. It’s best to limit interactions with those who undermine our confidence or question our ability.
Beware Users and Complainers
Furthermore, people who always seem to have a crisis going on in their life will dull your edges and slice away your productivity by consuming your time. I’m not saying people can’t have problems, but these people are a constant problem. Every day brings a new catastrophe and they need you to hold them up while they wither in place, pulling you away from what you should be doing to achieve your goals and dreams. They are a constant distraction that will only drain your energy as opposed to boost your morale.
Instead, we should seek people who sharpen us through accountability, brainstorming, and exchanging resources. They spur us on by reminding us of deadlines or critiquing works-in-progress. Their different perspectives stretch how we think about our own writing, even our own lives and goals. And they freely share industry knowledge, marketing tips, and writing opportunities.
Surround Yourself with People Who Sharpen You
As iron sharpens iron, it’s important to your success to surround yourself with those individuals who are going to push you to be the best person you can be in all areas of your life. You’ll shine as they help you polish the nicks in your life, and even in your writing, that need buffed out. Hopefully, you’ll be doing the same for them and together your friends and you can reach the heights that you’re climbing for, each pulling the other upward. In this isolating profession, we all need author friends who sharpen us. Together, we can each become the best writers—the best people—we can be.