For two weeks now I have been in La-La land…really, truly. I have been writing my pants off with a writing partner, and let me tell you—it’s scrupulous and painstaking, yet incredibly rewarding.
Writing is generally considered to be a solitary occupation, but not always. Collaboration can be an intimate creative relationship, a lot like love, friendship, or even film in its experiential nature. And you never really know if it will work with someone until you try it.
First, you will need a partner with similar sensibilities and a complementary strength. This is what gives the collaboration a unique richness and a range of talent. This person should be a writer you respect (and vice versa). It should also be someone who “plays well with others,” recognizing that disagreement is an invaluable part of the collaborative process.
There are many reasons why a partnership can be beneficial. Inspiration for one—there is a certain rush from bouncing creative ideas around with others. Perspective as well. Often a second opinion can help clarify plot inconsistencies or typos and keep the story on track.
The most important factor in a writing collaboration is the ability to trust your partner. You are trusting them with your creative vision and that they will carry their share of the workload. You need to be able to compromise and settle disagreements. And you need to trust that they will handle the story with a style and creative flair that complements yours.
One of the best places to look for a writing partner is online, perhaps a writer’s group or a workshop. This type of forum gives you a chance to get to know other writers and evaluate their style of writing before jumping into a partnership. Or you can always tap the blogging community, Twitter, or perhaps duet with say, a spouse, a friend, or an ex-boyfriend (gah!). Choose the most promising partner and see if it clicks. The journey of collaboration begins with one story. Here’s more on how to find your perfect writing partner.
Before your efforts begin, be sure to set a few simple ground rules; this will leave little room for miscommunication that could cause hard feelings and ruin not only the friendship but the writing partnership as well.
THE GROUND RULES:
1) Ego: Leave your ego at the door. Writing is deeply personal for a lot of writers and inviting another person in on that creative process isn’t easy. You have to be able to communicate your interests for the shared work. This isn’t a time for egos, but a time to share equally.
2) Responsibility: Who will be responsible for writing each portion of the work? Will you write together? How? (in person, by phone, online chat)? Will each person write a chapter at a time? Will one partner do most of the writing and the other partner most of the rewrites?
3) Deadlines: Set a deadline for each portion of the work. This should be a team effort, and you should be working to a schedule that mutually suits you and your partner.
4) Revisions: Any editing or alteration of the manuscript or characters should be agreed upon (where possible) by all authors.
5) Payment: Have a written agreement for how payment will be divided. Decide up front and before any writing has begun. If this can’t be agreed upon then there is no point to writing together.
6) Next steps: Decide who gets control of the finished work, who will be responsible for marketing and where. Who will find an agent or publisher?
A collaboration can teach you much about your own writing and can be a very rewarding experience—both for you and for your writing career. Just be sure you select your accomplice carefully!