5 Benefits of Collaborative Writing

Franz Kafka, the famous author of “The Metamorphosis,” once wrote that writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.

Although Mr. Kafka sounds a bit creepy, I get it.

As a mother to four kids, I relish hours alone with clicking fingers and thoughts. It’s just me and my laptop, or a pen and a piece of paper, and I’m hurled into a different time, place, or life. “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” said the great E. M. Forster.

I concur.

Solitude is a treasured gift in my writing life.

But as I’ve delved into my career, the importance and benefits of collaborative writing have become undeniable. I’ve realized, with time, that my writing can get blurry. My business plan can be smudged. Enter collaborative writing.

When I say collaborative writing, I mean sharing my work with others, helping fellow writers along the way, and receiving criticism and suggestions regarding my work. I need people. I need editors, and proofreaders, and cheerleaders. I need instruction, shared experience, correction.

Col·lab·o·ra·tion: The action of working with someone to produce or create something.

Letting people into my solitary writing life has been a great experience. I create more. I create better. How? In what ways?

I’m glad you asked.

Here are 5 benefits of collaborative writing:

1. Collaboration strengthens writing skills

After I committed to writing my personal story about having a child with Down syndrome in the former Soviet Union, I looked into taking a writing class. God hooked me up with a great group. We read and discuss memoir, submit pages, and critique each other’s work. This sort of collaboration with other writers has strengthened my writing muscles and encouraged me greatly. Plus, I made writer friends!

2. Collaboration helps keep the green monster at bay

Let’s face it. All writers struggle with jealousy. I surely do.

When I collaborate with others, whether I’m reading or editing someone’s work, promoting Facebook fan pages, or having a friend guest post on my blog, it’s more difficult to for me to be jealous. Instead of racing for the win, I become a fellow sojourner along the path. If you find yourself repeatedly jealous over another writer’s success, I suggest you attempt to collaborate with him/her. It will change your attitude.

3. Collaboration builds platform

Nine times out of ten, when I’ve helped another writer, he or she ended up helping me too. Like someone’s post, share a fan page, host a blog parade. People will notice your generosity. And maybe next time, they will promote you.

4. Collaboration pushes deadlines

Whether you are submitting new pages to a group, or working with an editor on a freelance project, or in the final stages of line editing with your publishing house, deadlines push you. In order to write more, often, and better, collaborate with others. You will be forced to meet deadlines, which, in turn, will force you to write more.

5. Collaboration makes me an upstanding literary citizen

I’m convinced that as writers, we need to contribute to the literary society to which we belong. Read. Buy books. Share articles. Subscribe to magazines. And I would add collaborate with other authors.

Collaboration is a win for all involved.

George Orwell said that good writing is like a windowpane. I’m convinced that in order to write well, I need others around me holding the Windex bottle, spraying, and wiping my purpose, productivity, and prose clean with wadded up old newspaper.

What about you? How have you/do you collaborate with other writers?

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17 thoughts on “5 Benefits of Collaborative Writing

  1. Great post! We write collaboratively as sisters and find that working together keeps us accountable for our productivity and quality of the work, I love your image of a WIndex bottle. Now imagine your sister is holding it!

    • That is so great you write together! Would love to hear more about your process, ladies! Thanks for commenting.

  2. Hmm. Never have except with my husband over a pantomime. Had to bully a bit, but needed him: he writes better lines, though denies it hotly.
    Won’t do it any more – says he has no imagination. Which is rubbish. But he is just not interested. Sad. Can’t imagine doing it with anyone else, so plod along alone. Big sigh!

  3. Such an encouraging post. The windex bottle is a keeper! I write along and with a group of four (the Word Divas). We collaborate as a critique group, which is humbling and stretching, but also jointly on magazine and newspaper articles for our community and state. When we write as a group, our byline is the Word Divas, rather than our individual names. We view this as a way to give back to our community.

    If I didn’t have these three ladies in my life, I would go out and find some. A writer really needs a small group that meets regularly, and via email, to keep herself sharp. We all also belong to our county writer’s group, which is quite large, but provides networking and friendships beyond our small group. We’ve gone to writer’s conferences together as way to keep each other accountable to our craft. We laugh together, cry, red mark everything, encourage one another, and it works.

    Although we’re all individually published authors, I wouldn’t ever want to go back to being an individual writer.

  4. Pingback: » Shy Town Girls and Collaborative Publishing Cool Girls Guide

  5. I ran a mailing list (remember those?) that focused on collaborative fiction, and I really got a lot out of it, including some very good friends. Of course, I also had to mediate disputes between people who couldn’t play nice with one another, which really stunk. I still have all of the characters I created for that list, and am hell-bent on working them into stories.

    • That’s awesome, John. I try to keep all my old stuff too. Never know when it will be of good use.

  6. I had a wonderful critique group that I worked with in graduate school. There were five tracks within the program: literature, technical writing, rhetoric and composition, creative writing, modern writing… something like that. I forget their official names. Anyway, we had such a great time collaborating on various projects and critiquing each other’s writing, Plus, since we were so varied in our specialties, each writer offered a unique view that wouldn’t have been there if five people from the creative writing program had been critique partners. I have such good memories from that group!

  7. Great post! I have a great writing/critique partner. Although we live in different cities and there is a wide age gap between us, it seems to work. I don’t know what I would do without her. We write different genres but we bounce any ideas off each other and collaborate on just about everything in our writing worlds. God bless you, Morgan!

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