Monday, July 2, 2012

Motivate. Appreciate. Collaborate.

Writing has always been a solitary endeavor for me. I think it is for a lot of people. Then I started blogging in 2005, and holy crap...there's a bunch of writers out there just like me! Suddenly I was part of a network of writers.

I've taken it a step further, and I'm currently collaborating on a cool YA paranormal/suspense manuscript with Miranda Hardy. Fellow blogger and writer extraordinaire. How did this come about? Pretty naturally, actually. When the idea first struck us, I wasn't seeking to work on a novel with another writer. I had done a post, and it sparked Miranda's imagination.

Soon, we were trading emails back and forth. Then it became full blown brainstorm sessions. Not so easy, since she's in Florida and I'm in Missouri. Isn't technology wonderful? Finally, Miranda just couldn't contain her creative urges anymore and really wanted to write this book. Then she asked me if I wanted to collaborate with her on this project.

I didn't even think it over, as it seems that's where it was naturally taking me. So I decided to go with the flow and I eagerly accepted.

We decided to utilize Google Docs. I've used it before, but now we were both really working to explore its full potential as a collaboration tool. Here's what I've learned so far about working with a partner in brainstorming, creating, and writing a book:

Howdy partner!
1) Share the load. Splitting up any necessary research and sharing your findings is such a wonderful way to ignite that spark in an idea. As Miranda and I traded information back and forth, we just knew we were onto something. The very birth of a great story idea came from digging and observing, sharing what we found and thinking, "We can do this!"

2) Brainstorming is fun. Miranda starting writing her ideas in Google Docs. My ideas were in red. It became an organic thing, watching an abstract idea become much more tangible and concrete...growing as our creativity was allowed to foster. As we began writing, it was so cool for either one of us to have an "Ah-ha!" moment with a cool plot twist or whatever. It's incredible having a great idea pop out from nowhere, maybe something you never would have come up with on your own.

3) Chemistry. This is one of those things where you either have it or you don't. Neither one of us is overly sensitive about receiving any kind of criticism. Not everyone is like this. Being of (sound) like temperament is a must. Miranda is also really good and constructing plot and getting it down right away. I like to mull, think about stuff, and I'm more detail oriented. We work well together.

4) The system. Some collaborators write their manuscripts simultaneously. On Google Docs, you can see what each person is doing live. It's pretty cool. But Miranda and I are both busy people. Often, only one of us is working on our book at one time. That's cool. I put my edits in red, and Google Docs allows you go look at previous versions to compare. We can also highlight stuff and jot down comments in a sidebar. There have been a couple occasions where we were online together, and that was so incredible! Google Docs also has a chat feature so we can share ideas immediately.

One of us is not as creative as both of us
5) Flexibility. There is a lot of extemporaneousness (damn, that's a word, right?) in the process. You have to be both a plotter and a pantser. Miranda and I plot and outline ahead of time, sharing ideas and plot twists. There are times right in the middle of the creative process where something does emerge and maybe take us into another direction. If it feels right, and adds yet another exciting turn or layer to the story, you have to have the flexibility to go there.

I'm excited about this project, and Miranda and I will be sure to update you on our progress. In other words, more details to come.

26 comments:

Brinda said...

This is a very cool project. I've always wondered about how easy or difficult it might be to collaborate on a novel. I use Google Docs a lot and can see how that would work.

Matthew MacNish said...

Love that pic at the end. Kind of like one of us is never as smart as all of us.

I've always wanted to collaborate on something with another writer, but it's never come up.

farawayeyes said...

WOW, this is so cool. I too have though that collaboration could be really inspiring, but then the other writer would have to deal with ME.

So glad to her that you found a new publisher. Most likely this is who you should have been with anyway, Duh!

Jay Noel said...

Brinda: It didn't take much effort to figure stuff out, since I've already used Google Docs too. It's very cool.

Matthew: Or that Demotivator poster that says, one of us is not a dumb as all of us.

faraway: Ha. We all have egos! You're right, it's where I'm supposed to be. So it all worked out.

The Desert Rocks said...

Solitary? I live in the desert so I know what it really means. LOL. I bet you'd be a fun person to collaborate with. Good luck and I'll be watching for the book!

Miranda Hardy said...

There are so many important factors in collaborating. It's been an incredible process and I'm happy we mesh so well.

Vero said...

Congrats on finding each other, Jay & Miranda! It's easy to find other writers who you can chat with online, but very hard to find someone you can create with.

I'm really curious how this turns out for you. And I hope, Jay, that you keep us updated on the experience of collaborative writing!

Jay Noel said...

Eve: I'd like to consider myself a pretty fun person all around. But who knows. Maybe they call me cranky behind my back!

Miranda: It helps that we're able to put our strengths together, and compliment each other.

Vero: I sure will. It's been an adventure so far, and we're just getting started.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Google docs is a great way to network.

Ciara said...

A fellow writer friend and I have spoken about this a few times. We just are so busy keeping up with our own stuff that we haven't had time. We use Google Docs for Knights of the Round Table. It's a great tool

Jay Noel said...

Michael: It really is. Especially in real-time.

Ciara: I had to put one project on the back burner, but now that we've got our system worked out, I think I can work on two things at once. Multi-tasking!

nutschell said...

What an awesome project. I'm looking forward to seeing what you two come up with!
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Crystal Licata said...

This is such an awesome idea. I never thought about working with another writer.

M Pax said...

Cool for you and Miranda. She is a cool gal. It would be fun to work with someone else. Best to you both.

Jay Noel said...

Nutty: You and me both!

Crystal: I never thought I would be either.

Mary: She is very cool. Lucky to have a great writing partner.

Rusty Webb said...

Wow. Sounds awesome. One of the first things I ever wrote was a collaborative effort. We took turns writing and would email our sections to thee sch other once we were done.

That was a long time before Google was around. What you described sounds pretty amazing.

Ainsley Shay said...

I'm very happy for you both! I know for a fact that she's an AMAZING writer and a very true friend!!! I wish you both the best!

Dafeenah said...

Congrats on the new project. It sounds awesome. I look forward to reading it.

Milo James Fowler said...

Very cool! I look forward to reading more about your joint project, and I wish you both well.

Mr. Shife said...

Looking forward to all of the details to come, and think it is awesome that you found a great partner to work on this project with. The Internet can be pretty cool sometimes. Have a good one.

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm impressed with people who can collaborate. I believe it has to be a special person. Glad you guys work so well together!

Jay Noel said...

Rusty: That must have been tough to do via email. Wow.

Ainsley: Yes she is!

Dafeenah: Thank you.

Milo: So far so good.

Shife: Very cool how we can connect with people all over the country. All over the world.

Theresa: There's always that initial doubt - but there's only one way to find out of you can work well with someone. Gotta just dive in.

Emily R. King said...

I have two blogger friends who just finished a collab wip. I beta read it for them and loved it. Between that and this post, I'm seriously thinking about jumping on the band wagon, if only for the fun of it.

Morgan said...

Ooooo... fun project! And yes, how have we not connected before??? So glad we finally have! :D

Peaches Ledwidge said...

Love the pictures, beginning and end.

Jay Noel said...

Emily: It's a fun, energizing way to write.

Morgan: I know! Funny, huh?

Peaches: Thanks so much.

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