Ten Reasons to Collaborate (or, Why I Disagree with Agatha Christie)

I’ve always believed in writing without a collaborator, because where two people are writing the same book, each believes he gets all the worry and only half the royalties.

–Agatha Christie



Over the past three years, I’ve worked on three or four major writing projects and dallied with several others, including an ill-fated post-apocalyptic tale involving an abandoned library and Greek Morse-code. That particular story is in my closet, but that’s beside the point.

Out of those three or four major writing projects (by which I mean novels), one of them was written with a co-author. While I would hate to lose my autonomy via incessant collaboration, my experience co-authoring a novel has been fun and rewarding. Now, I could just ramble in a very non-linear manner about WHY and HOW collaboration has been beneficial to me as a writer, but I’ve chosen to be organized today, so, here are ten reasons why collaboration has been glorious:

10. Writer’s block becomes a non-issue, because you can inspire and or goad each other into writing with every chapter exchange.

9. Depending on your method of collaboration (we each wrote one main perspective and, for the most part, switched off chapters) your workload is cut in half.

8. You aren’t crazy–somebody else hears the same voices in his or her head, too!

7. Another LIVING person inhabits the world you are creating, WHILE you are creating it.

6. Two heads are better than one. Brainstorming is almost always extremely productive.

5. Remember the days when you showed a chapter to somebody else (like your mother or sister) and worried that their praise was merely obligatory? Never again. Now, somebody else thinks as highly of your work as you do.

4. Marketing is easier because you will force each other to help out, despite inherent laziness and self-doubt on either party’s side.

3. If you are shy, you always have moral support at book signings and promotion events.

2. Planning a sequel is easier and more fun, because writing with a co-author combines all of the coolness of finding brand-new reading material and realizing your words actually have an audience.

1. You always have somebody to blame if, somehow, you accidentally write a horrible book that gets mass produced and becomes a best-seller…some authors don’t have that option.

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