There are hundreds of books and articles written every year that are the product of collaboration between two authors. And while it might seem easier to collaborate on a writing project rather than tackling it by yourself, there are certain hurdles you might have to jump in order to create a successful working relationship. Since no two writers work the same way, you’ll have to work closely with your partner to get the job finished.
Successfully Collaborate on a Writing Project: Goals
One of the main problems that authors run into while collaborating is a difference in goals. If two (or more) authors have widely conflicting goals on a writing project, it can be become difficult to complete.
For example, let’s say that you’re writing a self help book with a colleague. If you are concentrating more on helping people while your collaborator is more focused on marketing and promotion, you might find yourselves at a crossroads. Make sure to discuss your vision for the project at length before delving into the writing itself.
Successfully Collaborate on a Writing Project: Style
No two writers are the same, and we all have our own personal style that we lend to our work. That can become a problem when collaborating because you don’t want your book or article to sound as though two people wrote it. The text should be as homogenous as possible.
When collaborating, it sometimes helps to develop a unique style for that particular project. Talk about how you want the words to read-conversationally, academically-and work together to mold your styles so that they can’t be easily differentiated from chapter to chapter or from paragraph to paragraph.
Successfully Collaborate on a Writing Project: Sharing the Load
Unless you and your partner are getting together every day to work on your writing project, you will probably have to work remotely-through the computer or the mail. Since articles and books build on themselves by chapter or paragraph, you might want to take turns writing, or you can assign specific chapters or paragraphs according to individual strengths.
The most important thing is that you carry an equal-or mostly equal-work load during the writing process. When one collaborator writes 75% of the manuscript while the other takes only 25%, you’re just asking for trouble.
Successfully Collaborate on a Writing Project: Communication
One of the most important things to consider when collaborating on a writing project is communication. Even if you are working on the manuscript through the Internet, e-mailing back and forth, you need to be clear about any problems or concerns throughout the process.
If you feel that you’re being overloaded or if you can’t make a deadline, talk to your partner. Let him or her know that you are having trouble, and work together to straighten things out.
Successfully Collaborate on a Writing Project: Editing
Once you’ve written a rough draft of your manuscript, you and your collaborator will want to take turns editing. Obviously, if you’ve written different portions, you’ll wind up editing your partner’s work, which should be done in a diplomatic manner.
Rather than just changing sentence structure, word usage and other aspects of the manuscript, talk with one another and make notes. Explain why you think certain changes are important and discuss each edit before setting it in stone. And when your partner edits your work, try to be as accommodating as possible In other words: Pick your battles.
Successfully Collaborate on a Writing Project: A Final Note
Collaborating on a writing project takes patience, time and effort from both sides. If you find that you can’t work with your partner, you’ll know never to take on another project together again. Some people collaborate well while others are better off left to their own devices, but you won’t know which time of writer you are until you attempt to collaborate.