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?

Social Media… Eeeek!!!

Social media, social networking, marketing, PR, all those terms seem to make authors shudder a little bit. There’s so much to learn and a lot to leverage from gaining an online presence. Where do I even start? That’s the question that I hear so often.  I am going to start at the beginning. And for some of you, this may be very basic information.

Start slowly. It will snowball. My mom used to tell me when I was cleaning, “By the inch it’s a cinch; by the yard it’s hard.”  Social networking happens gradually over time. Gathering a ‘tribe’ takes effort.  It is something that comes with hard work and, most importantly, consistency.

Don’t get frustrated!

I want to start with one specific aspect of social media today: Facebook fan pages. Facebook has changed things up a bit where you can now allow ‘subscribers’ to your personal page. A good example of this is Tim Tebow. Check his personal page out, and you can see that he has 1.6 million subscribers. What is a subscriber you ask?   When you post a status, you can post it so that the Public, Friends, Friend of Friends, or a Custom Group of people can see your updates. Subscribers would be the Custom Group. People are under the impression that this is “good enough.”  Although subscribers are good, there are still more advantages to having a fan page, and most people are not even aware you can subscribe.

Here are a few of the simple basics that a fan page can do, that a regular page can’t:

SEO.  Have you heard people say that? What does it mean?  “’Search Engine Optimization’” is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.  You have more visibility with a “fan page” than with a personal one.”  In easy terms, these pages show up quickly in Google and other search engines because they rank as a higher priority than just a regular Facebook page.

You can have more that 5,000 people on your fan page. Unfortunately, a regular Facebook page tops out at a max of 5,000 people. You say, “I will never get to 5,000 fans.” I say, “Dream BIG!”

People have immediate access to you. No waiting to approve a friendship. Once a fan likes your page, he or she can see all that you have said and done.  Also with a fan page, you can personalize it; it is customizable.  With a little money, you can have a welcome page, a contact form, or unique apps that embed into the page that will make a fan’s experience more of a custom one. Think of a fan page as a second web site to draw attention to your book.

From a fan page you can learn who your followers are and who your target audience is. You can find out their sex, age range, and what country the live in. You automatically have an answer for when an agent or a publisher asks you, “Who is your audience?”

Dedicate 30 minutes a day to social media, and start with your Facebook fan page. It will be worth it, the fans of your book will thank you!

Tell me about your experience with Facebook fan pages. How can you encourage other writers to jump on the Facebook fan page bandwagon?