The Secret to Finishing Your Book and Becoming a Better Writer

collaborative writingI never would have believed it.

But it’s true. Writing with a partner can be magical.

At its best, writing with a partner will sharpen the quality of your work and allow you to glide through a manuscript with greater speed. But it will also lead your brain to places it would never have gone alone.

Before David sent me the first few hundred words of Available Darkness, a little more than a year ago, I wouldn’t have imagined that the process of collaborative writing could have ever worked so fluidly.

Though one of my favorite Stephen King books, The Talisman, is actually co-written by Peter Straub, and my favorite series as a twelve year old boy (nerd alert!) was the Dragonlance series by Margaret Weis and Tracey Hickman, I imagined those writers had access to some secret sauce of collusion that I did not.

But it’s not true.

Not for me and not for you.

You’re a writer.

Being a writer means you’re an excellent communicator.

If you find a writing partner you can vibe with, then you can focus your already excellent skills into a sharper point. David and I managed to keep the pages of Available Darkness bouncing between the borders of a lot of other projects without dropping the ball.

You can too.

5 Ways Having a Partner Will Help You Write Faster and Better

1) Accountability

We had a busy year.

With the many things we tried to pull off in 2009, Available Darkness could have easily faded to vapor. And if the project had been either one of ours individually, it might’ve easily ended up in the bottom drawer of the desk (or forgotten folder of the hard drive) like so many of the world’s other unfinished manuscripts.

But it wasn’t.

Available Darkness was published each week, with only a couple of holiday exceptions.

We never wanted to let our readers down, nor did we want to disappoint the other.

2) A Way Out of the Rabbit Hole

Writing can make you feel like you’re alone in a basement with only the echo of footsteps trip trapping across the planks above to keep you company.

You sit and stare, then blink and type, then lean and stare some more.

It is a different process to have someone else with whom to volley ideas. Your ideas don’t have to be perfect because you are not reliant upon your creativity alone. Your partner can help carry the story forward even when you’re not feeling up to the task.

This sort of help not only saves your sanity, but also influences the story in unique ways, which can make it even stronger.

3) A Way to Sharpen the Learning Curve

I’m a better writer since the first page of Available Darkness.

Much of this is due to the reams of copy I write each week, but there are parts of my growth I owe specifically to this project.

Each week drops opportunity in my inbox; another shot to sharpen my skills.

I open the document and see the mind of my partner.

Whack, clang, crunch, the gears start to turn.

Dave’s job is to lay out the story. Available Darkness’s grisly skeleton of a narrative bleeds from his brain. It is always worth paying attention to, how he lays it all out, shuffles characters, and does things I probably would not do, but are possibly better than anything I ever would have done.

A new city makes you more aware of your surroundings. Walking the alleyways of another’s mind will help you to see the mud on the bricks and the litter blowing by.

The few times I’ve not taken the time to study have been my loss.

4) Balance

In an ideal partnership, each writer should balance the other. For Available Darkness, Dave draws the pictures and I ink the copy. He tells me when I don’t use the right colors.

This helps me understand what’s best for our project and opens my eyes to my own writing.

Working together, we’re able to facilitate the strengths of the other and deliver tightly edited, pulse pounding work that is better than either one of us would’ve managed on our own.

And in less time.

5) A Constant Rally

Self-doubt seeps through the margins of the writing process.

You’ve been there, it’s terrible.

What if this isn’t  any good?

What if nobody reads this?

What if I’m wasting my time?

We’ve all felt those emotions, but a partner can make sure they don’t hit an artery.

A partner can give you gas when you’re running on fumes and reassure you you’re headed in the right direction, while also helping to steer.

All of us who drop words for a living share similarities, but we’re all different. We’re not even our same selves all the time. There are times we bleed onto the page, and others when we shuffle words like cards from a deck.

A partner can provide the writing process with a consistency that can give depth to your character and dimension to your story.

Isn’t that why you picked up the pen in the first place?

P.S. But Sean, you say, I don’t know another writer I can collaborate with! The Inkwell has something special coming for you next week. A way to sharpen your writing and find a writing partner.

Spread it if you like it, link it if you love it.

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6 responses to The Secret to Finishing Your Book and Becoming a Better Writer

  1. David

    Marc – There wasn’t a 6. Must’ve been one of those pesky rabbits in the hole. Thanks for the catch – we fixed it.

  2. Nathan Hangen

    First of all, the DragonLance series was one that changed my life as a kid. Great books!

    Second, without my co-author Mike, Beyond Blogging would never have happened. Collaborative writing is an awesome experience and as a result, I’ve 3 or 4 more experiences like these planned 🙂
    .-= Nathan Hangen´s last blog ..The Jack Bauer Guide to Being a Bad Ass =-.

    • Sean

      YAY! DragonLance!

      I didn’t even know if anyone would know what I was talking about with those. But they were awesome. Tasslehoff Burfoot was my favorite character, by far.

      I love writing with collab. I’ve got something planned with my wife and about a half dozen with Dave, so if Father Time seems fit to endow me with an extra few months that no one else gets, I’ll be good to go!
      .-= Sean´s last blog ..Deeper Understanding Leads to Higher Profit =-.

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