Words with friends: Collaboration makes better writers

I love the stereotypical image of a writer: A solitary figure, holed up somewhere chain smoking and drinking buckets of booze coffee, surrounded by piles of books and articles and balled up manuscripts. Or enigmatically penning the next great American novel in a coffee shop, maybe in a black turtleneck, but definitely all alone.

Become a writer they saidLoneliness. The part about writing that sucks the most.

Or not.

Over the last couple years, I’ve discovered the magic of writing partners and coauthors. It started in graduate school when my friend, Katie, and I started Operation Dissertation, and met weekly to discuss goals, share writing, and keep each other motivated. Four years later, we still talk every week.

Lately, it’s also been working with friends on research projects.

Just last weekend, I had the glorious experience of submitting a revised manuscript for publication with one friend on Friday, and submitting another paper with a different friend to a different publication on Monday. Can I tell you, the team approach and cross-country toasts are anything but lonely!

So it is no surprise that I’ve favored collaboration in my professional life over the last couple years, preferring the back-and-forth of editing and the motivation of “owing” someone words, to the loneliness of writing stuff on my own. The work ultimately feels smarter and more creative in the end, and I’m oodles more productive.

However, my “Bitches Get Stuff Done” new year’s plan features two languishing solo projects, things that are still important to me. So this semester, I joined a faculty writing group on campus. We’re going to meet weekly, trade work, and ahem, hold each other accountable. After just one meeting, I am SO EXCITED to get back to the projects I’ve avoided because there’s a formal social support element built in.

So, all hail words with friends, and huge thanks to Katie, Amy, Jenn, Lou, Sarah, Jenny, Janell, and Heather.


Related links:
2016 theme: ‘Bitches get stuff done’
Dos and Don’ts of dissertation writing
Grief, accumulated: Thoughts on secondary trauma, writing and resilience
13 things writing students need to know
A grateful heart: A man who understands writing deadlines 



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