All together now: collaborative writing

LWC Live in February is with the writer, Miranda Glover. Her recent project, Leap Year, was a collaboration with five other writers who together form The Contemporary Women Writers’ Club. Writing groups are springing up all the time and for many, it’s a great way to avoid the isolation of a writer’s life. Some writers prefer writing alone and that’s fine but for others they find it can help inspire ideas and get instant feedback.


Leap Year is an anthology which ‘charts transformational moments in 12 women’s lives over the consecutive months of a year. Each story is set in a different country and considers a particular life stage. The ‘leaps’ in the book are sometimes physical or emotional and always psychological. Common themes recur: self-recognition, re-evaluation and reinvention.’ Leap Year was written – and discussed at length – around kitchen tables. The writers would meet once a month and go through their stories over cups of tea.


If you enjoy multi-tasking, and enjoy writing different things at the same time – then a writers’ group or writing with one other person could work. Some writers work on their own pieces for half the day and then brainstorm and hang out with other writers. NB you can do this virtually as well, via the web – remember to check out the different ways of storing documents on the web that can be accessed by each writer.


So what can you do to ensure a writing group or collaboration with one or more writers really works?


Pick your collaborators well – don’t pick your mates (unless they are great writers). Think about if the other writer will have integrity as well as ability. Will they be honest and give you clear, unbiased feedback on your writing? But you must like your collaborators – it must be a fun process.


If you are planning on actually writing together, decide upon how the money will be divided up – if possible jot down a quick agreement – so if it sells, the income will be split say 50/50.

Think about the credit as well – will your names be credited together? Some writers have used a synonym when they write together.


Be flexible and open to suggestions. Easier said than done but use your writing buddies’ comments and take on board any useful advice.  


Sometimes, writers collaborate as each have a different strength – some may be good at dialogue, others on the narrative etc. Discuss your strengths before hand and read samples of each others’ work so you are prepared.


Writing together can be great fun, inspiration and in the case of The Contemporary Women Writers’ Club can really succeed. Above all, it’s the talking about your writing, exploring different directions and avoiding the loneliness of a writer’s life, which seems to bring writers together.

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