Co-Writers: The Secret Ingredient I Didn’t Know I Needed

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Photo by Tnarik (Creative Commons)

Today is a special guest post from my friend Todd Foley. Todd is a writer and editor in Vancouver, BC. He released his debut novel, Eastbound Sailing, in 2012 and has enjoyed some great conversations as a result. He has yet to make a bag of chips last longer than a single sitting. Connect with him on Twitter @tdiddy1234 or on his blog at Scribbledrevisions.com.

Let’s be honest—writing is an incredibly intimate experience. You bleed your persona onto paper (or Word document), revise it, and make it as good as possible before sharing your words with another soul. That last part is perhaps the scariest step of the whole sequence. How will my writing be received?

I battled with that question all throughout my journey of writing and publishing my first novel. It was hard enough going through this by myself; little did I know how different (and awesome) the process of collaboration would be.

Nearly a year ago, two blogger friends reached out to me and we tossed around the idea of collaborating on . . . something. We had no idea what we wanted to create, but shared a desire to work together – even though none of us had ever met in person.

Emails discussions led to Google hangout sessions. We found ourselves talking about topics from which we, as guys, tend to shy away [e.g., maturity, numbness, lack-of-handyman-abilities and, of course, Justin Bieber]. And then we realized that we found our goal: a collection of our conversations on these very issues.

Together, we brainstormed ideas, pitched topics, affirmed the good ones and shot down the weak ones. We handed out assignments, shared our first drafts and collectively edited and refined each and every entry. This week, we’re proud to release the fruits of our labor to the world: Man speak: Conversations on Manhood, Responsibility and [not] Growing Up.

Man Speak Final

Here’s the synopsis:

We hear it all the time: “Be a man!” But do any of us really know how to be a man, let alone what that even means? We three guys came together to wrestle with those questions and recorded the journey in this collection of conversations. At times silly, serious and contemplative, this book is an invitation for any guy to join the conversation about what it is to be a man today.

But enough about the book. What’s important to me are the three lessons I learned during this interpersonal journey.

1. Shared creative endeavors = newly discovered community. Each guy involved in Man Speak was walking through significant changes in his own life apart from the book process. Because of how much each of us invested into the project, we came to know one another as friends and then walked through these life chapters as brothers.

2. Two (or three) are better than one. Each of us had a vision for what we hoped to accomplish, but we all brought unique perspectives (through our varying professions and experiences) in how this journey should be interpreted and presented. Through this collaboration, we were able to see our individual personalities from a different point of view. I don’t know about Dave and Andrew, but I certainly came out of this project with a fuller understanding of who I am as a writer and as a human being.

3. Dedication truly pays dividends. Our project hit many roadblocks along the way which forced us to ask ourselves some questions: What is our actual vision? What message are we trying to share? How do we shape this vision through our different chapters? While it did take some time to work through these questions, it brought us closer to that goal, and we finished the race with smiles on our faces.

I don’t know about you, but I’d say those are some awesome perks of collaborating.

Have you co-written with other authors? How did the experience go for you?

 

  • You know, this is something I’ve been thinking about and struggling with lately … I have a book I’ve been wanting to write. The basic outline is there, I just know I need to get it done. And as soon as I start writing, the resistance kicks in and I don’t get much done.

    On the other hand I have a colleague who’s a ferocious writer. He makes it look so easy. Just the other day, he cranked out a full poem in 20 minutes. I’d never be able to do that. I’d sit there for an hour before getting two sentences in, lol.

    So I asked him: “What do you think about doing this together?”

    He expressed interest. I guess the next part is just taking that actual next step and getting it done!

    • I’d highly recommend giving collaboration the green light.

      As creative people, we can get a little protective (at least I can) with our ideas. It’s in the sharing that makes those ideas better, clearer and stronger.

      Let us know how it turns out Ricardo!

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