Monday, June 8, 2015

Collaboration: Working Together

I’ve been writing for almost fifteen years now, and this project is one of very VERY few that I chose to collaborate on. Typically, I play well with others, but when it comes to writing I waffle between overly confident that I can do it better, and far too self-conscious to produce much of anything. This project, however, is a beautiful exception to my normally wise rule.

Alright listen I know it's a different word but I love this video.

When collaborating on any project of any kind, for any reason, there are a few things you should keep in mind in order to make that project (and that collaboration) a success.

Choose your partner wisely
I am very lucky to have Jeremy as a partner on this project. We have minds that, while rather similar, work in very different ways. It’s nice to hear things from a different perspective, even if your partner comes to the same conclusion. Sometimes especially if it’s the same conclusion.

we like each other a lot I promise
When choosing a partner for a project, make sure that person understands your work flow, when is a good time to rap and when is a good time to back the eff off. And you should know that same things about that person. Depending on how intensive the project is, you may be spending a lot of time with this other human, so it’s good to know what works and what doesn’t before you’re staring a deadline in the face and you can’t seem to get along.

One of you should be able to stay calm during crises big and small. Something huge and dramatic WILL occur on a long-term project. Something small will happen and appear huge and dramatic. Someone has to keep their cool while the other freaks out. (these roles may flip flop throughout, though for us it’s usually me freaking out while Jeremy waves his jedi hand over the situation and creates an atmosphere of calm.)

You should also partner up with someone you can be honest with. It won’t do either of you, or the project any good for one or both of you to smile and nod while the project goes up in flames.

Set up a timeline--and stick to it
This is one rule I have trouble with myself. Breaking the project into pieces and looking at it as little bits instead of the whole will help immensely.

When we decided to start the blog, we were posting once a month or so. Then life got in the way and we’ve had trouble getting back to that monthly post. It’s time for us to reevaluate what schedule will work for us, and then get serious about producing work for that schedule.

Of course, creativity and motivation don’t like being on a schedule very often. For this, I recommend writing more than you need for a specific deadline, so that you can queue things up when you’re not feeling well or won’t be able to get to the computer on time. Life tends to get in the way way more than anyone would like to admit, and it’s good to be prepared.

Split Some Work, Come Together on Other Parts
No two people are exactly alike. Jeremy came up with a great template for our reviews on various elements of the Disney parks that I don’t think I could have done on my own. I write much smoother, so he will often provide raw notes and I’ll turn them into something that flows while integrating it with my own thoughts.

Because he has an analytical, engineering mind, where mine is much more focused on creativity and brainstorming, we split the work to focus on our strengths, without splitting the project entirely. That makes the book truly a collaboration, rather than a patchwork of our writing. In my opinion this strengthens the whole thing.

Closing Thoughts
I will admit that I have only ever collaborated on non-fiction projects, so I don’t really know how this would work out in a fictional setting. I TRIED working on a play with one of my best friends once, but we were only communicating over the internet--which I personally don’t think lends itself very well to fiction writing. Perhaps you have had another experience though, which I would love to hear about.

What do you think is essential for a creative collaboration?

Let us know in the comments.

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