Some writers never collaborate on publishing projects, but many do. You might co-write something, co-edit something, or work with another writer or writers on a writing-related endeavour. The touchstones for successful collaborating are 1) understanding yourself as a writer and 2) respect, again.
Before you decide to collaborate on any type of project in any capacity, you should have a good understanding of yourself and your attitude as a writer (and possibly, as a person).
- Do you work well with others?
- Can you readily reliquish control over decisions?
- Can you admit that there is more than one “right” way to do things?
- Can you discuss without descending into argument?
- Do you know how to pick your battles?
- Do you always have to be right?
If you want to collaborate with someone else, your answers to the above questions should be:
If those are not your answers, you may not be ready or able to collaborate well.
If these are your answers, ask yourself one more question: “Do I respect the writer/writers I’m considering working with?” That respect is an essential element in any collaborative relationship, because regardless of the benefits (economic, promotional, etc.) you feel you might derive from a collaboration, it is doomed to fail if you don’t respect your collaborator. If this all makes sense to you and you agree, then maybe a successful collaboration is in your future.
The details of a collaboration will vary widely from project to project. You may each take on different roles by playing to your respective strengths, or you may take a more egalitarian approach and simply split the workload fifty/fifty. The workload allocation may simply evolve as you begin the process, or you may work it all out and set it down in writing at the outset. Whatever allocation works for one current project may be quite be different for another project, even if you’re working with the same writer. The details are always up for negotiation, but the respect needed for a successful working relationship is not.
All Inter-Writer Relationships Come Down to One Thing
Also known as “That Writer”
The main thing to keep in mind when dealing with other writers at any stage of your career is that you don’t want to be THAT writer. You know the one I mean, although there are many different values of “THAT.” It could be the writer who thinks his genre is the only important or worthwhile one. Or the writer whose first drafts are so perfect, she disagrees with all constructive criticism and can’t imagine that an editor would want to change a word. Maybe the writer whose way of doing things is the ONLY way. But you get the idea. THAT writer. Treat your fellow writers always with respect, tolerance, and support, and you won’t be THAT writer. You’ll be the writer that everyone likes, respects, and is pleased to work with.
Except, of course, the jealous ones.
That’s it for our inter-writer relationships! Next class we’ll look at a new sort of interaction…the kind you have with Editors.