Writing is a lonely business. One of the most common images of a writer is that of an individual typing away late at night at a desk under the light of a single lamp, lost in their own world they’ve created or struggling through the old nemesis Writer’s Block. Many writers, and artists in general, are night owls and that lends itself to the mystique of the Solo Author.
But does this creative process really have to be this way? Writing solo may be the way to go for some, but for others, not so much. There are writers out there who may need the help and not realize it.
I have to say, I’m one of those people. As much as I see myself as the soloist, I’m really not. My best ideas come when I have someone else to bounce them off of. A lot of times I compare this to work in general. There was a time when I worked in a large graphics department. All of us designers were in one room. There was always some kind of chatter going on, whether it was joking amongst ourselves or sharing tech tips, there was a constant flow of ideas going on.
There are days I miss the larger group mind. And it was for that reason that I built a partnership with Wendi for Blue Sun in general. It was the same for writing Loyalites. Writing a novel by yourself is a daunting task, no doubt about it. Everything about the book and the story is totally on your shoulders. Some people are cut out to do this solo, and others? Not so much.
Those of us in the latter category thrive on the give an take of ideas and delight in the talents others bring to the table. We can take that and build on it ourselves. The back and forth keeps going until you have something amazing unfolding right in front of your eyes. A good collaboration is exciting and exhilarating. And it brings out the best in both partners.
Welcome to Collaboration
Where did the idea of the lonely, tortured writer begin? Who knows? It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s no rule written anywhere that says in order to be a published author you must write alone.
If you’re finding writing alone is a struggle, why not consider collaboration? Many great stories have been written by two or more authors. Sometimes it’s a single, seamless novel, or a collection of short stories tied together by a common setting. No matter how it’s done, collaboration can be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
What Makes a Good Collaboration?
Collaborative writers have a different mindset from their Solo counterparts. We’ve already established that Collaborators thrive on the whole brainstorming environment, but there are other traits that make for a good collaborative team.
Check the ego at the door. First and foremost is the ego. What is usually the most common reason people want to write their own books? To see their name in print. Face it, you want to make your mark on the world and be famous. Whether or not you rise to the same status of Rowling or King, you still want that for yourself. I know I do. Will it happen? Only time will tell.
When you collaborate, your name isn’t going to be the only one on the cover. You have a partner and your partner has you. Throughout the whole writing of the novel you both have to be able to listen to one another’s ideas. If you’ve chosen the right partner, the decisions come easy. You’ll both know what works and what doesn’t. But if one of you gets the idea you’re skills and ideas are superior over the other, you may as well go back to writing solo right now.
Trust. Writing a novel is very personal. For many of us, it’s all we can do to even share that first draft with anyone for some feedback, let alone bare our souls to a writing partner. A good collaboration needs a solid foundation in trust. You need to know that your writing partner isn’t going to yes you to death for the sake of appeasing you, and vice versa. You both need to be open and honest about what you’re doing if the story is ever going to get off the ground.
Passion. Both partners need the same level of passion about the project. There may be times when one of you need a pep talk to keep going, because it’s not going to be a smooth, easy road the whole way. There will be a lot of ups and downs. But underneath it all, you and your writing partner must believe 110% in the project and be willing to see it through to the end.
Complimentary Skills. Collaborators are often drawn to one another through a mutual respect of skills. Maybe one writer has a flair for dialogue, while the other has a knack for setting. Both writers should have something important to bring to the table, and if both sets of skills fill in the blanks where the other is weak or lacking, all the better.
Is Collaboration For You?
If your ideas come easier with the feedback of others, if you are willing to set aside the ego and foster a rich, creative partnership with another writer you respect, then yes, collaboration is for you. There is nothing more fulfilling than creating a novel with someone else and sharing that process. In the end, it’s more than just a book. It’s a growth process. A collaboration such as this will teach you a lot about yourself and others. At the end of it, when you hold that final printed copy in your hands, you’ll find that the journey was so much more than just getting your name in print.