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3 tips for a successful writing collaboration

Three tips for a successful writing collaboration header

Last week I wrote about how a writing collaboration can be a really good thing for writers. It can open up new opportunities and build networks. It can give you a fresh perspective on your writing and stop you being caught in a little writer bubble.

If you haven’t read last week’s post, why not head over now and have a quick read? This week will make a lot more sense if you do that first.

This week I want to share my simple rules for working in a writing collaboration.

Be open to ideas

This is a real difficulty for some writers to overcome. We are so used to sitting with our music on and our own little worlds bouncing around us that we forget that there are other people out there. Those other people have ideas as well, but they seem distant and have no effect on us.

When you’re in a collaboration though, these ideas are now the property of the collective. They must be released into the wild and allowed to roam free in the minds of others. It’s the only way that they’ll grow and breed, becoming something more powerful than themselves.

A bird flying in the sunset

I got a little carried away with the analogy there. I apologise. But it did give me an excuse to use that picture.

One of the points of a collaboration is to allow others to feed in ideas and to embrace them. Some might not work (including yours), and you should be open to discuss that, but don’t close yourself off to ideas before they have even been pitched.

Value the time of others

Being part of a collaboration means that you have to deal with the routines and timings of more than just you. Other people have lives, day jobs and dependents. They will not be able to reply to everything you email them within ten minutes. You will not be able to reply to everything they send you within ten minutes.

Life happens, and people’s priorities change. My recent house move totally destroyed my writing schedule. But I remain determined to get back to writing, and I did. I responded to some emails and put together a competition entry or two.

You shouldn’t expect someone to drop everything to work on your collaboration. It’s important to set expectations before, and foster a working partnership where people feel comfortable to raise issues with you, and where you can raise issues with them.


The last rule is probably the most important. Collaborations live and die on communication. Too much means people can feel harassed and stop wanting to work with you. Too little and your collaborators will switch off, get bored, or feel unsupported.Two women talking by a window

Why not arrange a regular catch-up? Put it at a time when everyone can make it easily. Discuss what is worrying you, what is exacting you and the week ahead. It may seem really formal, and a little too restrictive, but with the meeting you will all have a forum to discuss the difficulties that you’re facing. It just makes everything so much easier.

3 simple rules

I hope the above are useful if you’re about to jump into a writing collaboration. Remember to think of it as a professional association, even if you’re all volunteers. That will allow you to be a lot more confident in the project, and I think it will also help create a really worthwhile outcome at the end of it!


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All the images on this post are taken from pexels.com.

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