After several months on the shelf while I toiled at my day job and filled sparse free time on edits for my adult mystery, Lost Innocence, I am finally set to return to a new labor of love — a young adult novel that I am working on with my talented writing partner, Lesley Downie.
This project has been such a revelation. It’s allowed me to personally reconnect with Les, now a friend for life. And, as my first foray into the YA genre, it has required dipping my toe into the psyche of that oddly elusive sect called the teenager (scary!). Best of all, it has debunked one of my steadfast, back against the wall, defend‑my-point-of-view-at-all-costs beliefs that I am not the co-writer type.
My day job involves film—producing tiny frames of digital media that (after collaboration with directors, editors, composers, creatives, account, business affairs and marketing people) somehow translates into thirty seconds of storytelling. After that, one would think I would be perfectly suited to partnership. Not so. Like many writers, I’m the introvert, the loner, the person in the crowd who dances to the beat of their own drummer. In school I shied away from teams, and at a cocktail party you’ll usually find me hunkered from the crowd.
But this…I am addicted and having a blast. Lesley and I are half way through our book and I’m super jazzed at the way it is shaping up. I’ll post more as we go along and might even convince Les to do a guest posting or two. Until then: Not the co-writer type? Here are a few simple tips to make it through and make it thrive:
• Divide duties; be flexible. Allocate jobs and be prepared to adjust when surprises arise. Sometimes “surprises” are gifts in the making. Being rigid or resistant to compromise because of a need to control can lead to creative disaster.
• Play to each other’s strengths. You’re a brilliant researcher and your partner is fantastic at outlines? Great! Take advantage of not having to carry the full load. With a little honesty and compassion, this can be a valuable learning experience.
• Make regular meetings. Schedules are busy with day jobs and individual projects, families and responsibilities. But a regular touch base is essential to refine the goals and make sure you are both on track. You wouldn’t try to make a marriage work without seeing your partner, right? Plan times to get together or Skype, review pages and outlines, go on research expeditions or just plain talk it out.
• Be prepared. It ain’t easy. Writing never is, right? Most of us can honestly say it’s the hardest thing we’ve ever done. A second person in the mix only means you have to challenge yourself to be better than you thought you could be. Raise the bar. You’ll thank yourself and your partner.
For more on Lesley Downie visit her website: http://lesleydownie.com/