Tinder for Writers?
November 2, 2022 § 10 Comments
Using Reddit to find a writing partner.
By Michael Anthony
Years ago, I was single, alone, and staring at my computer screen. I had a big decision to make: Send the Message or Don’t Send the Message. It was my first attempt at dating online—an unusual concept at the time—and as the minutes of doubt ticked away, I sighed to myself, “Why the hell not?”
Overall, my foray into online dating worked out quite well (which I won’t go into here). But the thing is, when years later I was looking for a writing partner, I thought for sure it had to be someone I met in person. I figured it would be too weird to not “vibe-check” physically and thus wouldn’t have that same literary spark—which I oddly felt more a necessity for a writing partner than a romantic one.
I imagined dozens of meet-cute literary scenarios: running into someone at a coffee shop, glancing at each other’s screens from across our tables, seeing what the other needed in their story; or going to a poetry reading and connecting so deeply with each other’s poems that we instantly start working together.
And I tried, I really tried to meet a writing partner in person. I had degrees in writing, which gave me a wide network of writerly friends, and yes, I attended writing conferences, and yes, I went to local writing groups at libraries and from MeetUp.com. And yeah, sure, I ended up having a few tawdry one-night-stand writing sessions. A couple of song lyrics strung together, some poetry verses read, an outline for a short story written, but none of it meant anything.
Everything changed one day as I was browsing Reddit (a forum-based website). I saw a post about people looking for “Writing Collaborators,” and there in front of me was a piece of artistic work so beautifully crafted I fell in love. I knew nothing of the creator, who they were, where they lived, their age, gender, education, work, or publishing background; all I knew was that it was “love at first sight,” and even though I’d be batting out of my league, I once again sighed, “Why the hell not?” and sent a message.
I made it short: “I like your stuff, are you still looking for a writing partner?” And before I knew it, I had a message back and then we were moving from Reddit to Instagram to Gmail and, eventually, phone. One thing led to another, and I asked them to partner on a project and they said … yes! Within a few months of that “Yes!” we got an agent together, and a few months afterward a book deal for our graphic memoir: Just Another Meat-Eating Dirtbag: A Memoir.
The point is though, none of it would’ve happened had I not first opened up to the idea of where I could find a writing partner, and what that partnership could look like. And if it can happen for me, then it can happen for you, too, with just a few simple steps:
- Open yourself up to the idea of searching for someone who might not live close; the wider you open yourself up, the more you’ll be able to base your decisions on something besides proximity. Since a Tinder/Bumble for writers does not currently exist, I recommend Reddit (far better than Goodreads forums and Facebook pages): there are groups for everyone, e.g., R/ComicBookCollabs (where I met my partner), R/WriteWithMe, R/Writers, and the larger general group R/Writing. And if a sub group doesn’t exist for what you’re looking for, then start it!
2. Be clear what you’re looking for but open yourself up to the possibility that the perfect partner might be the opposite of what you assume you want, i.e., not local, older/younger, different background, etc.
3. When you do find a potential partner, approach from a place of respect—both for their work, and for their time.
4. Remember that “No means No”: if a prospective writing partner says “no” then just move on.
5. Don’t give up on your search! I spent years looking for a writing partner and you might spend years too—but know that the right partner is worth the wait.
6. When you do find a possible partner, start with an outline for a short story, or go over a few paragraphs; don’t dive right into agreeing to write a book together, take it slow.
Keep up the search and I know you’ll find a writing partner you enjoy and respect just as much as I enjoy and respect mine, the great Chai Simone.
Michael Anthony is the author of the graphic memoir Just Another Meat-Eating Dirtbag, and the award-winning and acclaimed memoirs Civilianized and Mass Casualties. His work has appeared widely across the web in various publications and formats. He holds an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University and is a volunteer for the Veterans Writing Project. He tweets and does the website thing.