Being an author tends to be an isolating occupation. Though there are parts like writing itself that probably need some solitary work, other parts can be done in collaboration quite nicely.
It’s all too easy to get lost in our own little worlds and especially if you’re doing this full-time it’s important to foster social contacts. This is why I want to take a stand for more collaboration between fellow writers. What’s better than to make progress on your work and have contact to other people at the same time?
How to find Comrades
You could just go ahead and get a writing buddy, someone you can talk with and to give each other advice. The things I’m going to suggest here can be done with two people, but I actually want to encourage you to be part of a group. You do get a different kind of dynamic with more than two people, though in my experience results get worse with more than 5 people. 3 to 5 seem to be the magic number here.
But how to actually find interested people for this? The Internet is such a precious gift. We can use it to find some partners in crime just fine! You can ask around in a writing forum or you can check out existing groups on Facebook. You can also ask on any Social Media platform. You can even ask in the comment section of blogs like this one.
Maybe you can find an already existing group that’s willing to let you join, but you can also create a group yourself.
How to Collaborate
You can use your group any way you want. You can talk about your challenges or progress, you can keep each other accountable or you can encourage each other. Anything is great, but you can take this a step further and actually work together!
Challenge Each Other
This is probably the most common thing to do: Use a healthy dose of peer pressure to get some writing done. You can set a specific time during which all parties write or you can set an amount of words each one has to write in a day or a week. Whatever works for you.
Be Each Others Test Readers
You can also help each other out by being one anothers test reader. In a group of people it’s easiest to focus on one story during a session and to not tackle the whole story in one go. This helps to not mix up different styles of different people and to not overwhelm the members with too much work. A group feedback can be especially valuable, because everyone has different taste and more people mean different views. Again, you’ll have to figure out what works for your group and adjust accordingly.
Use Group Brainstorms
This one is my personal favorite, because now you have to really work as a team and you reap the benefit of different minds and their ideas. I would recommend to focus on one person at a time. Pick a topic – plot ideas, character background, world inspiration, whatever you need… – and just start to come up with lots of ideas together. Don’t forget to write them down! I love group brainstorming, because you’ll get lots of different ideas. Ideas that you probably wouldn’t have thought of yourself. Ideas that build on each other. It’s both enlightening and fun.
Have a Code of Conduct
I’m a fan of having a code of conduct when you’re working with others, because it’s all to easy to get into an argument when people have different expectations. You can include anything you want, but I would define both how to treat each other – e.g. use constructive criticism, no insults – and how to handle each others work – e.g. get permission before using ideas of someone elses brainstorming session, not stealing each others plot twists. It may seem logical and obvious, but having clear rules makes life easier and your group perhaps a little more mysterious.
Working in groups may not always be easy and you have to be considerate of each other, but you’ll also reap the benefit lots of benefits like unique opinions and ideas. And you’ll automatically have more social interactions with people who share at least the interest of writing.
Are you currently part of a writing group? Do you plan to join one?
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