Writing has always been a solo act for me. It comes from the soul, or mind, or both, and how could that be anything but an individual endeavor? I had worked on various projects with other writers, both in college and post graduation, and it had always been the same; two egos unable to take, only give, or two styles that were not form fitting, or some other fundamental traffic jam that resulted in a botched attempt at creating something new. I always returned to the page, pen in hand, resolved to go it alone, until recently. When you are considering co-writing something, be it a screenplay or novel or essay or what have you, it is important to review the pros and cons of what will inevitably become a close-working relationship.
The place to begin may seem painfully obvious, but sometimes the best ideas can sweep us up in a wave of creativity and we ignore or are unable to see what is before us. The most important thing is not whether you particularly like a co-writer, although to be of like minds is extremely beneficial, but whether you can communicate concisely and openly with one another. For many people it is easy to come up with the ideas but you must also be able to accept them. The story you are telling will take a different direction than it would were you writing it by yourself, so you must be prepared to bend your standard style and patterns a bit. Without a little give it is doomed from the start.
There also occurs in many writing teams a control issue or battle of the egos. Save everyone a lot of time and work, and leave your ego at the door. To create something of substance is the goal, so concentrate on the story and not whose name will appear first in the credits when the studio options it. The story will follow new paths and everyone involved will have time to shine. Pretend the story is your baby; don’t fight in front of the baby. You may run into other conflicts such as scheduling and dead ends. Set up meetings with your co-writer at least once a week if not daily. I speak with co-writers throughout the day via email, text, phone, and face to face. When I work on projects with people who live in other states or countries, I jump on Skype and have a webcam sit down. Both or all of the writers involved need to decide the level of priority the project has and keep up with deadlines and meetings through completion. If one of you hits a wall let the other have a crack at it. Work on different angles of the same situation to discover all of the dynamics of the subject or scene. Inspire one another, bounce ideas off one another, lead one another, and follow one another.
In the end, there are some things that I still reserve to write alone, but I thoroughly enjoy teaming up on children's books, screenplays, novels and brainstorming, so long as it is a good marriage. Like anything else, you have to work at it, a lot, but the reward is the creation of something worthwhile, something that you helped to bring about, something that otherwise would never be.
Eric S. Bochner
Causes Eric Bochner Supports
Education on all fronts
Alternative Energy Sources
A Green World