I’m very much aware that writing with a partner isn’t for everyone. And even if it is, not all partnerships are created equal. Finding the right person to work with can be almost as important as developing how the two of you will work together. Either way, I’m of the opinion that writing doesn’t have to be a solitary task and that having a team of two or more people working on the same project can actually be a benefit in a number of ways.
Maybe you’re thinking I’m crazy right about now, but I have the real-world experience to prove I’m not just spouting nonsense. Since I started professionally writing back in 2008, I’ve published seven books, four of which were written with my business partner and co-author, Murandy Damodred, and one of those four we also had a third team member working with us. We’ve currently got another co-written book on the go, #Uncharted, which we’re working on for the #85K Writing Challenge (85,000 Words in 90 Days).
The first benefit of co-writing is a stricter schedule. When you write by yourself you can typically sit down and write whenever, or you try and find those quiet times of the day in which to seclude yourself. With a partner, you need to actually schedule times when the two of you can work together, whether in person or online. (Murandy and I do both. Online, we use Google Drive as it has a chat feature and we can both work on one document in real time.)
Having a block of time set aside specifically to write makes you feel like you need to get right to it and keep going until that block of time runs out. This helps keep me on task and focused because writing is what I set out to do during that time, but in this case having a set schedule can still help, even if you’re flying solo. However, in a team you can each can keep the other accountable.
- Idea Generating
The next benefit is pretty obvious. In a team-scenario you’ve got another mind to bounce ideas off of and to generate more. Between the two of you, you can hopefully narrow down the best ones and also come up with creative solutions for any roadblocks you come up against.
For me, the biggest benefit to co-writing is motivation. Murandy is a great motivator. She gets so involved in the story that she always wants to keep it moving. With two people involved, the other person’s motivation can be infectious. It can also be very motivating to talk about the story you’re working on with someone else who is just as invested. When working solo, you can achieve a similar effect if you need to by talking to a friend, family member or spouse who is interested and engaged in your project.
Which brings me to my next point:
- Instant Feedback
When writing with a partner, you have someone with you at all times to give you instant feedback on pretty much everything. This can be a good or a bad thing depending on your partner and how well you work together, but for Murandy and I, it’s a benefit. From the smaller things like catching errors as we go, to the larger things like did that scene flow as nicely as we both wanted it to, I always have a second pair of eyes going over the work. This can help catch any problems really early before a beta reader or editor gets to it and it can put an end to all the second-guessing we authors tend to do when looking at our own work.
In my opinion, the biggest benefit the reader gets out of co-writing is a sense of realism. By that I don’t mean in the setting, though the descriptions can be improved if one partner is not able to visualize what the other is trying to describe. What I’m really referring to is the dialogue. When two writers have divided up the work so that each is responsible for a character (or multiple characters) then the dialogue becomes a case of two people actually talking to one another. This is something you can’t get when you’re a solo author.
One thing Murandy and I have always liked to tell people about our books is that when you’re reading an argument you just know we were actually arguing with one another, as sisters do.
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Murandy Damodred (left) and Justine Alley Dowsett (right) – founders of Mirror World Publishing.
With a passion for media and sales, Murandy has a strong background in public relations and promotions as well as an education in Drama and Communications. Justine is an author herself and has worked in a multitude of industries, including publishing. She comes to Mirror World Publishing after acting as Producer and Business and Marketing Director for First Age Studios, a video game design company.