Collaboration in the Writing Process | Story as Project

Books don't write themselves - and sometimes the writing process goes better with two than with one. Larry Niven, Anne McCaffrey and Melanie Rawn (to name but three!) have all completed successful writing projects with other authors.

In today's how to be an author guest post, Rebecca Lacy outlines 11 points to bear in mind when writing a project with another author.

The Fine Art of Collaboration: 11 Tenets for a Successful Partnership

by Rebecca Lacey

Rebecca Lacey the writing process graphicOnce upon a time in far off lands called New York and Missouri lived two very smart women who each wanted to write a book. What neither of them knew was that they needed the other to make it happen. Unfortunately, there were evil forces - ok maybe not so evil – keeping them apart. Then one day, a great magician who they met in a magical place called LinkedIn introduced them. And they wrote happily ever after!

Perhaps it sounds silly, but in essence that is what happened with my writing partner, Susan Goldberg, and me. We were introduced by a mutual friend on LinkedIn and after months of regular networking conversations, we discovered that we each had a passion to write a business book. This in itself isn’t terribly earth shattering. After all, how many consultants do you know who don’t want to write a book? Probably not too many since it is a curse of the trade!

No, what made it different for us was that neither of us particularly like business books. That in itself is blasphemy for a couple MBA business owners. We could be drummed out of the corps for such an admission. But we had discovered the truth: Business books are (mostly) BORING! Not only do we think this, there are a lot of other people who agree with us. It’s bad enough to read a boring book, but the thought of writing one is pure torture.

Susan and I wanted to write something fun and … different. But what?? Come to find out we are both fans of children’s stories, especially Alice in Wonderland. Who would think you could take a book such as that and create a business book? Well, that is exactly what we did. As it turns out, there are some wonderful characters in Alice in Wonderland who are very reminiscent of people with whom we have all worked.

Collaboration: The Writing Process

Susan and I worked on the book – Wonderland Odyssey: Turning Leadership on its Hat and its companion primer for months – taking turns writing chapters and editing together. We held each other accountable and gave one another encouragement when the going got tough. Now, that the project is complete, we go back and have a difficult time remembering who wrote what so seamless is the voice that we used in the book. The ability to accomplish this was because we were committed from the very start to a successful collaboration. In order for that to happen we had to put our own consulting advice to work. While we never set ground rules, some of the tenets that allowed us to have such as successful partnership include:

    1. Put your ego in a drawer. You won’t need it for this project. Enough said.
    2. Ensure that you have a common vision that you are working towards.
    3. Be supportive of one another. We relied on one another’s encouragement and accolades.
    4. Be open to suggestions and the other person’s ideas. That’s why you are collaborating.
    5. Live up to your obligations.
    6. Be patient. Collaboration takes time.
    7. Offer your input and suggestions in a supportive and kind way.
    8. Be objective – what is really best for the book?
    9. Be willing to look at things from a different perspective. At times I had clear ideas of where I thought we were headed. Susan had a different map. We would each explain our vision and decide together what was best for the character and the book.
    10. Make it a priority!!!
    11. Have fun!!

So, what’s next? With our book and primer completed, we continue to collaborate on our blog that is designed to entertain, build interest in the book, and to provide information about leadership and other topics that people in all types of organizations and industries have to deal with. We are in the process of looking for an agent who would have an interest in a quirky business fantasy.

Oh, and one other thing…Susan have still never met in person. Someday we will. Perhaps at our book launching (tea)party!! In the mean time, I hope you will stop by and say hi on our facebook page and our blog site.

Have you written a book with anyone else - or are you planning to? Please share your thoughts about the writing process in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Collaboration in the Writing Process | Story as Project

  1. Thank you Imogen for inviting me to be a guest blogger. How very nice that you included one of my favorite authors, Anne McCaffrey, in the intro.

    1. Rebecca, how fun – you caught me just as I was updating…

      Your post is one of the most informative – thank you very much for publishing it here!

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