I have a friend. I can actually call her that these days even though we've never met in person, but we talk almost daily now. We met on a writing critique website and, over time, talked more and more about things outside of writing. Without a doubt, I'd say we're each other's biggest fans.
That's not an exaggeration on my end. I've read a few of her works now, and I absolutely adore them. One in particular, the one I read first, holds a special place in my heart. Reading this manuscript, you can feel her love for the main characters vibrate off the page. It's palpable and beautiful.
In fact, these two characters we lovingly call idiots are almost real to me. Every time she shows me a new scene, I waver between incoherent squealing and dissecting their small actions and what they mean. They fascinate me. I adore them.
This friend, this incredible writer who agonizes over the smallest detail, goes through periods of self-doubt. Almost cripplingly so. When she told me she'd only sent ten queries and was considering the project a failure, it took everything I had not to buy a plane ticket, fly to her state, and shake her. I reined in the urge for two reasons - one, I'm broke. Two, I understand her doubt, why she might think that even though I know it's not true. Like her, I have anxiety and depression, and I also go through periods where I think I'm reaching for something that I'll never be good enough for.
The good thing is, I can encourage her from the outside. I can't override her own brain, but I can help her fight the demons in my own way.
So I bribed her. Full stop, outright, admitted it was manipulative to her face, but if it motivated her I was willing to do it.
For every ten queries she sends, I'll draw one full fanart of her manuscript.
I don't mind. I love drawing even though I have a lot to learn, and I love her work. It's not a chore to me. And her reactions when I show her are worth every second I spend on the pieces.
This is what writing friends should do.
Maybe you can't draw, but you're good at creating aesthetics. Do it for that one writer you truly believe in.
Maybe you're better at praising their work in a way that bolsters their spirits. Do that.
Or maybe you're killer at refining queries. Offer that for them, no trades necessary.
Her success would make me more happy than mine. It's rare a story touches me like this, and I'm happy to play a little dirty and take time out of my week to draw fanart if it encourages her to put her work out there more.
(Also, there's more art on my art page! And a non-motivating drawing I did for her below; I just thought it'd be cute.)