I always have to laugh a little when I hear people discuss the solitary art of writing. Talking about writers who holed up in an office/cave/hotel room/cafe/what have you to write their great works. Clearly, in order to publish a book, other people get involved. Sometimes dozens of other people.Writing very quickly turns into a group effort.
Yet for me, the group project begins very early on–starting, of course, with Sam, and often his wife Ashley. Working with a coauthor naturally opens the dialogue. We discuss everything from world building and history to plot and characters. But that’s not where it ends.
Just this morning, Sam and I were chatting about the book. I wanted to discuss one of our new characters, to flesh him out a bit more. Sam advised me to talk to another friend of ours, who often provides feedback for our ideas.
I’ve spent nearly two hours this morning chatting with this friend, developing this character. It’s been great. He’s had many fantastic ideas, and we’ve had a great discussion about this character’s history, background, motivations, desires, pet peeves, and future thoughts and actions.
I used to write alone. I used to keep all my ideas to myself. I used to cloister my work until I had a “finished” product to show others. I used to be very protective of my work, sometimes because I was afraid that people would hate it, sometimes because I was afraid that people would steal my ideas, sometimes because I thought that was how writers were.
You know what? My writing is better now, because other people are involved. In the beginning, Sam used to insist that he wasn’t really a coauthor, that he shouldn’t be given so much of the credit. But Sam has become necessary to my writing. (Read about our collaboration process here.) Getting feedback from other people makes our ideas stronger, more well-rounded. Like this character this morning, who was so flat before, but who has now become a fully realized person, whom I am excited to write about.
As far as I’m concerned, writing is only solitary if you write solely for yourself. If you intend to have readers, you intend to involve other people. And, at least for me, the sooner, the better.