No matter what you produce – it could be art, baking, computer programs – there has to be input before there can be output.

You need input in terms of physical nourishment, ideas, craft, but especially you need nurturing from people. Who nurtures you?

Who nurtures you generally, helping you to feel good about yourself? Who makes you feel warm and wanted, a person of value? Who do you hurry towards and hate to leave? These people are nurturing you.

When it comes to your writing who nurtures you? Who has been your mentor or your guide? Who has told you honestly but kindly when you were off track? Who suggested new reading that gave you ‘Aha’ moments? Who listens to your work without interruption and offers suggestions without imposing their own particular bias?

These are your nurturers. They feed that need for improvement within you. They help to build your skills and confidence as a writer.

Hang out with them. Thank them, big time. Return the favour to them and pass the nurturing along to others. We all stand on someone else’s shoulders; have your shoulders be ready for someone else.

At the same time pick out those who do not nurture you, in fact they drag you down. Try to avoid them.

These are the people who criticize without knowledge (“Couldn’t you have given it a happy ending?”) They say your work is lovely or wonderful without offering any precision – they mean well, but they are wasting your time. These are people who ask what you have published and if you don’t have a list like Danielle Steele they look disappointed.

You probably have your own list of downers. Let’s not dwell on it. Let’s just say life is too short and move on.

Move on to more nurturing friends. It sounds easy enough, but where do you find them?

You find them in a carefully chosen writer’s group. You find them in conferences and workshops. You find them on-line – there are so many writer’s blogs and forums. Find one that fits you. Sometimes you just happen into them by serendipity.

But don’t ignore that need to nurture yourself. Just as you need proteins and veggies to keep your body strong, you need ideas and friends to keep your writing strong, vivid, the best it can be.

(To my nurturers – Val M, Nesta, Li, Liz, Cheryl, Elena, Suzanne, Jean, my kids, and lots more – thank you, thank you, thank you.)