After reading the previous article, you may have the impression that I think collaborative writing is a bad thing. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. When you write with others:
- it’s possible to distribute tasks according to individual strengths, meaning that the finished product will (probably) be more than a sum of the parts
- brainstorming is more effective, more people means more ideas
- not only will you have more ideas, but as you discuss, challenge, and research the topic amongst the group, you will have different ideas than you might develop on your own
- having many people working on a project gives it energy and focus, which is tremendously helpful upon entering the hinterland of any project commonly known as “middle”
Collaboration is good, but it is also complicated. It takes a great deal of work for a collaborative project to be success. You have to balance competing needs against one another. On the one hand, it is really important to provide an author the freedom and space required to own her ideas. At the same time, though, you need to make sure that everyone is clearly communicating about the project and where it is headed.
Making sure that everyone is on the same page and that efforts are coordinated is a complex challenge. It requires meaningful discussion happens; establishing a system for sharing documents and knowledge; and that goals, scope, audience, and purpose of the project are well defined. In many ways it shares much in common with another complex endeavor, coordinating the care of a medical patient.
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