Writing a book can seem like a daunting task, an overwhelming project, and, let’s face it, lots of work. It takes an enormous amount of time and energy, maybe more than you think you have. One solution: How about partnering up and co-authoring with someone? There are excellent reasons to engage in collaborative writing, whether your project is fiction or non-fiction. This is not a new idea — the television and movie industries recognize the value of writing teams, and there are plenty of books written by more than one person.
Lonely no more! There are positives to writing a book and sharing a creative journey with someone. When one of you is not feeling creative, the other can come to the rescue with inspiration! Or, you can meet, brainstorm, and build off each other’s creative energy. Writing and research work is cut in half, and it’s possible to get a book out in the world faster. Once the actual writing is finished, there is more work to split (contacting agents and editors, engaging copy editors or cover designers, social media, etc.). Being accountable to someone else can be enough to keep your writing flowing. And the best part — the creative process will not feel as lonely.
Get over the fear. I am trying a writing collaboration right now! I’ll admit I’m a little scared. What if my writing partner doesn’t like my work? What if I don’t write fast enough? Good enough? What if she decides she doesn’t want to write with me? Will our friendship be affected by our working together? Good questions — but like every venture in life, anything worth doing is a risk. Jumping in despite my fear has been an exercise in courage. As John Wayne advised, despite being scared to death, I saddled up anyway!
Don’t let your ego get in the way. It’s hard to have your work critiqued. It’s also difficult to critique a friend’s work. But, critiquing and being critiqued will make you a better writer and will produce a better manuscript. Look at the feedback on your writing as a gift. Plus, the more you are critiqued, the more you will become used to it. Do your best to identify when you are responding emotionally and deal with it accordingly, and you’ll grow as an artist and develop personally as well.
Grow your empathy muscles. You are going to have disagreements with your partner. The best way to understand is to step into your partner’s shoes and look at it though her eyes. You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn by a shift in perspective. An excellent skill for an artist and also a good approach to use in life.
Learn to give up control. Writing a book together requires you to give up some control, and when isn’t that a good thing to learn?
Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River” series: “First, There Is a River,” “Jasper Mountain” and “Theater of Illusion,” available online and in bookstores everywhere. She writes from her home in Spring Green that she shares with her husband and three cats. Find out more at www.kathysteffen.com.