How to Co-Write an Book from Start to Finish

Op-ed

Authors have accomplished writing a book on their own for centuries. From Jane Austen to Stephen King to Leo Tolstoy - countless authors have left their mark on human literature.

My friend and I have taken a non-traditional route, and decided to partner up for a lengthy project we keep close to our hearts - our dream book series called Angels. The book, which began with an idea for two simple characters, has branched out to a whole universe, and we aim to represent mental health, minorities, and social injustice.

Through two years of work, we have discovered three important steps to writing a book with a co-author, which will help you get from the marathon of the start to finish of a manuscript.

The keys to being successful co-authors are: communication, persistence and imagination.

Communication is Strong With This One

Communication is the first step to co-writing, especially if the relationship is long distance. Letting your partner know when you make a change to your WIP (work-in-progress) is undoubtedly important. This can easily be done over email, text, call or chat.

I would suggest making a goal to communicate once a day for at least 15 minutes, about anything and everything. Your partner can reply whenever they are free and ready to discuss.

Nothing is final until you both agree or come to a compromise. You can take your idea that did not make it into the book and write another WIP! There is no need to let go of ideas, it is not the end of the world.

Some days, when our energy was low, we would sit down and talk over the phone about simmering ideas and possible side plots, so that we still exercised our teamwork mindset, and built upon our work. Building a relationship with your writing partner is a genuine joy. You get to witness someone grow and succeed in their life, and form an unbreakable bond. Those fifteen minutes scheduled mean the world to both of us, and if we have time we could text the whole day.

Finding time for both parties to sit down, discuss and write together is a product of communication. Share your google calendars and find the magical time slot that works for both!

Respecting your partner's time and availability is not only morally correct, but avoids further conflict. Not writing together could lead to awkwardness, miscommunication and possibly an argument. We set time to discuss what's happened in our lives, and if nothing significant has happened, we have time to work on our writing!

Just Keep Writing

Writing a book is undeniably difficult, whether you navigate it alone or not. To continue working for something as massive as a novel, especially with someone else, persistence is a tactic and trait that will come in handy. To remain motivated to complete the first draft, challenge yourselves by setting small attainable goals along the way.

As my friend and I worked on our first draft, we cheered each other on as we reached each thousandth word, and we planned to finish scenes or chapters each time we both sat down to write, depending on how much time we had.

Supporting each other and being persistent is important because it'll smooth out the experience as writing partners and as individual authors. Encouraging one another to take steps towards finishing your draft is always admirable, even though it is difficult having busy lives.

A negative experience with writing is hard to recover from, even throughout the drafting process. There is always room for improvement, but this is where persistence comes in.

Step Outside the Box

Keeping your mind and ideas outside of the box is the magical ingredient! However, it has to be done with communication, as mentioned above.

Yes, part of writing is throwing out all ideas, whether you think they're stupid or not. And I still recommend doing so, as long as you're able to discuss these ideas and come to decision about whether to include them or not. Leaving your partner out in shared work is inconsiderate.

How Do I Begin?

One of the most significantly difficult things about co-authoring is finding your ideal writing partner - all of us have different personalities and thus different writing styles. In fact, this step is so integral to the process that we believe an entire article could be dedicated to ways of approaching this. As such, I can only briefly touch on the general gist of finding a writing partner whose habits will work with your own!

First and foremost, they have to be kind and care for your feelings and mental health. If they ignore you and walk away after a disagreement - that is a red flag. Being understanding is imperative, they have to be able to understand and accept your family and work conditions. Not all of us are the same.

Find someone dedicated to their work, please don't waste your time on someone who will not care or does not want to get work done. This is expected out of both of you, not your partner alone. Be caring, understanding and serious about your work just as much as they are.

Try it out! I can guarantee that you will know if this partnership will or won't work within the first few weeks of writing together.

While it is ideal to know each other for long beforehand, it is also essential that you practice writing with this person so you get an idea of their style, outlining and idea-production process! If it isn't working for you, lightly tell them you'd like to keep writing, but perhaps as a infrequent hobby and catch up!

When done right, co-writing is definitely the most entertaining way to write a book. We encourage you to find a friend or someone you met online (that you trust) to go through the process with.

Just remember that it is a two-person journey, and respect must go both ways. Good luck and have fun writing!

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Allana Wessling
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Allana Wessling is an Australian high school student planning to enroll in a journalism/creative writing course after school. She is highly interested in digital technologies, history, and fictional writing - she is currently co-writing an action-romance novel series focused on the themes of confidence and overcoming hardships and mental illness. Allana thoroughly enjoys spending her time with friends and family, writing tips and tricks for other authors, and reading anything and everything.