Linda Maye Adams

Should You Write with a Cowriter? The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Have you ever thought about writing with a cowriter?  Several years back, I was approached by an acquaintance about cowriting, and I jumped at the chance.  Initially, it was a fun experience.  Writing is such a solitary thing, and here, we could bounce ideas back and forth and simply enjoy the writing.
Barefoot Asian woman seated on a beach, laptop resting on her legs, and she smiles and writes.
But then it turned into a major disaster and imploded — while we had a finished manuscript on full out to an agent.  I was never more glad for a rejection!
Here’s are the lessons learned I came away with:
  • The Good:  It forced me to do the one thing I really needed to do: Shelf the old project and start on a new one.  I’m not sure I would have if I hadn’t been motivated by cowriter to start a new book.  And I finished the new book!
  • The Bad:  I agreed to it for the wrong reasons.  I’d spent years struggling to get subplots into my story.  I could see it needed them, but they didn’t evolve naturally for me (and still don’t.  I can only get them on after a lot of revision).   When cowriter approached me knowing my difficulties with subplots and saying he was strong in that area, I jumped at the opportunity.
  • The Ugly:  Because I figured my problem was solved by cowriting, I didn’t learn what I was doing wrong.  Consequently, after we broke up I still had the same problems, and it was possible I’d made them worse!  I’d gotten better as a writer in some areas, which helped to further mask the problem.  It took several years of hard work — work I’d wished I done sooner — to understand what I was doing to cause the problems.
Would I do it again?  No.  One of the things I learned while I was working through the long-standing problems was that I’m probably not the best choice to work with someone else on a creative project.  My muse often takes strange paths that would stretch the patience of anyone!
For you:  Have you ever considered cowriting?  If so, what’s your reasoning behind it?  If you’re cowriting, what’s have been your experiences, good and bad?  Post your comments below.

2 Comments

  1. anshakotyk

    I’ve co-written. A short story recently with a critique partner and friend and loved the process. We brainstormed together, chose which pieces to write, revised together and compromised to get a positive final result. It was a wonderful experience to watch the word count rack up so quickly, to bounce ideas off each other and create something that was a shared creation not wholly one or the others.
    Both of us chose to co-write, to challenge ourselves and to share a different story.
    Would I do it again? Yes.

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