Remember, as a child, how you could never go swimming without pairing up with another kid? Never mind that neither of you could save the other if you were drowning. At least your buddy could yell while you thrashed about.
The buddy system works in many instances in life. I’ve had a tough time embracing such a concept, being my mother’s independent little trooper. She taught me well and to this day, that woman continues to dole out the support while retracting into her turtle-shell when she needs a hand. Heaven forbid that anyone but her should ever be inconvenienced. Ah, well, what are ya gonna do? Parents are so hard to train.
Back in the early ’90s, I discovered what a great shot in the arm the buddy system was for my writing, which was flowing like sap in winter. I met two fellow aspiring writers at a literary conference, and we formed a triumvirate to review one another’s work and hold each other’s feet to the fire to keep writing. By the time our little Five Points Literary Society dispersed, I had produced nearly thirteen complete chapters of my sci-fi novel. But without my buddies, I soon fell back to my slothful, excuse-ridden ways. (Something even better came out of that alliance, though — my current roommate, who is also one of my best friends ever! Just goes to show how great the buddy system can be.)
Anyway, to get to the point of this little monologue, I am again reaping the benefits of buddying-up when it comes to writing. Mind you, I don’t need any inspiration to write. If I had my way, I’d be working at home 24/7, composing my short stories, finishing volume two of the movie review book, resurrecting my poor neglected novel, and creating the screenplay I’ve wanted to write for several years. No, inspiration is not the issue. Time, energy, and discipline are. When paid work is plentiful, as it is right now (knock wood), I tend to slack off in my personal endeavors. Only makes sense, right? Gotta do the paid work first. Only problem is, that becomes a self-perpetuating cycle that’s hard to break.
Buddy to the rescue!
Sensing my recent stressed-out state (could have something to do with all the bellyaching and yelling and crying, maybe?), my fearless fellow Fleury fan (and wonderful writer) Tasha suggested a remedy. I was leery.
“We have to write for ten minutes a day, no matter what, and send each other what we write.” She’s so bossy. I could picture the thigh-high stiletto-heeled boots, the leather bustier, and the twitchy whip ready to fly as she flicked her wrist.
“I’ll try,” I whined.
She channeled Yoda (something she does more often than she realizes) and said we would not be trying — we’d be DOING, dammit!
It was just what I needed.
Much as I hate to admit when anyone else is right or comes up with a solution that wasn’t my own brilliant idea, Tasha’s plan has worked like a charm. And it’s actually not the chore I thought it would be. I look forward to communing with my latest personal writing project (at the moment, that’s a vampire tale for the short-story collection), and ten minutes usually turns into about thirty, but eh, who’s counting.
The buddy system can work for all kinds of endeavors. After all, you can’t work a see-saw by yourself. You can’t spot yourself when lifting weights. You can’t arm a two-key nuclear device. And you can’t be your own sponsor in AA.
But seriously, think about your own life and what you do — or want to do — that would benefit from having someone “spot” you, and you spot that person right back. Maybe you and someone you work with can cover for each other when either of you needs time off. Perhaps you and a neighbor can alternate picking up stuff you need from the store. If you and a friend both need motivation to exercise, call each other to make sure you do it … or pick each other up to go walking or to the gym.
Whatever it is, do yourself a favor and buddy up!