The old saying “two is better than one” is true in many situations, including writing.
Co-writing is a great way to widen your network of contacts, increase motivation, promote accountability, and bolster your writing weaknesses all at once. We’ve been able to enjoy all of these benefits since we began writing together regularly. Whether you’re considering co-writing because your credentials are stronger together than separately, or because you want a break from this otherwise solitary business, here’s how to get started and what to avoid.
Your co-written work will only be as good as the relationship that backs it. While requesting that all potential partners submit a resume and published clips might be taking it a touch too far, your reputation (along with a lot of precious hours) will be tied up with this person once you start writing together. So what important factors do you need to consider before making a commitment?
Look for someone whose abilities you respect. Mentorship has its place, but not in a co-writing relationship. Just like in a marriage, you want to partner with someone you respect, trust, and see as your equal. There’s no room for co-dependencies. You want someone who pushes you to get better. With a deadline in red ink on your calendar, you don’t want to have to teach someone the basics of writing. And, as we already mentioned, your professional reputation is on the line. If you miss your deadline, it reflects poorly on both of you. On top of that, your name will be attached to your joint effort when it goes to print.
Look for someone with similar likes.
How long would any friendship last if you had nothing in common? What would you talk about? What would you do together? In a co-writing relationship, the same applies. If your partner prefers to write marriage and parenting articles, but you want to write about hot button topics like AIDS and prescription drug abuse, you’re probably not a good fit. This is where the marriage analogy breaks down. Co-writing isn’t like a marriage where compromising on your interests is good, and you can daydream about shopping while at the hockey game with your husband. Your whole heart has to be in every piece you write. If you’re not both equally excited, one of you will end up doing most of the work and feel taken advantage of while the other grows resentful at being “forced” to write about a topic they’re uncomfortable with.
While we share many writing interests in common, we also have many that we don’t share, but they’re differences in background and experience that make us stronger when we write together. Lisa does a lot of contract writing for non-profits. Marcy does a lot of SEO writing. We can each bring the skills we’ve learned from those different disciplines to the table when we co-write, but never have we tried to coerce the other into writing about the things we individually specialize in.
Choose someone who also shares your long-term goals. Are you happy working for non-paying markets because you’re writing as a hobby, while your potential partner needs the money from a paying market to make ends meet? Do you eventually want to give up article writing to move into writing novels independently, while the other person is looking for a career-long partnership? You might not think so at first, but these will breed conflict the same way it does in a marriage when one spouse wants children and the other doesn’t.
Finally, you want someone you can have fun with and who you genuinely like. If you think the same things are funny, and are able to accept each other’s quirks and differences, you’ve probably found someone you could work with. While we’re called to show the love of Christ to everyone, we’re not called to have an identical relationship with everyone. You’re going to get along with some people better than others, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Choose someone that you want to spend time with.photo © 2008 Ernst Moeksis | more info (via: Wylio)
Do you have any other advice about choosing a co-writing partner?
Marcy & Lisa