Do you ever have AMAZING ideas for a story that you just don’t think you can accomplish on your own? Ever come across someone with whom you can bounce ideas back and forth like pro tennis players?
Here’s a thought for you: Collab! It may be the answer to your problems as a writer trying to tackle a seemingly impossible story. There have been some amazing collaborations in history: Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Paul McCartney and John Lennon, to name a few. Let’s go over some points of consideration before you dive into the world of collaboration.
1- Someone you can trust
As mentioned above, sometimes you just come across someone (another writer, dreamer, artist, etc.) that just gets you! They may have similar ideas or just make it easier for you to jump from point A to point B by helping you find a bridge you didn’t know existed.
2- Find your common goal
It may start as a little idea in your head or a friend’s head, but once discussed between the two of you it develops and grows like a weed. That’s a great start! You’ll want to figure out where you want this idea to lead you early on, otherwise your project may become a tangled mess.
Here’s an example of how friends finding a common goal can turn into something amazing. Director Mel Brooks helped his friend, Gene Wilder, to create the iconic film, Young Frankenstein. Below you’ll find a description of their encounter, copied from the New York Post’s site. It reads:
While shooting “Blazing Saddles,” Brooks noticed Wilder doodling on a yellow legal pad between takes. He saw the title “Young Frankenstein” and said, “Gene, what the hell is that?”
Wilder told him his idea for a movie about Baron Frankenstein’s grandson who, though he seems to be a rational man, is in fact as crazy as any Frankenstein.
“What’s your dream for this movie?” Brooks asked.
“My dream is for you to write it with me and direct it,” Wilder said.
“You got any money on you?”
“I have $57,” Wilder said.
“It’s a beginning,” Brooks said. “I’ll take it as a down payment.”
We all know how that project turned out. And if you don’t, shame on you! Go watch it! Geez. Now, we can’t all hope to be part of such a dynamic duo such as Wilder and Brooks, but if you have friends with common ideas, try to turn it into something tangible!
3- Strengths and Weaknesses
Just as Wilder and Brooks split up jobs for the project of Young Frankenstein, it may be best to discuss strengths between you and your buddy (or two, or three buddies). That way, your project will have the best possible chance of succeeding when all that you put into it is your best effort.
4- Split up the work
Once you’ve discussed the different strengths and weaknesses between you two, split up the duties that, once completed, will help you have a completed draft of your project. Then you can celebrate! You gave it all you got and did your part. That’s more than enough reason to congratulate yourself. Plus, it’s always easier to fix a piece of writing that exists than to stare at a blank page and wonder what to do. I’ve done that last bit all too often, and it’s not fun.
So, once you have your part done, hopefully your partner will be finished as well! You’ll want to keep in touch throughout the whole process, but once you have something to share with each other you’ll want to begin evaluation.
This can be a delicate process, especially since writers are a bit defensive about their work (or a lot). Just a tip I’ve learned from writing classes: be open to criticism. This doesn’t mean that you need to agree with everything that is said. But you need to be aware that when it comes to your own work, your judgement may be a bit biased. So if your partner points something out, you may need a third set of eyes to help tip the balance. When you are the one giving feedback, I suggest giving constructive criticism, as that will help maintain a healthy relationship between you and your creative partner as you continue work on your project.
All in all, I hope this blog sparks some ideas in you. If there’s something you’ve been dying to work on that just seems to big to ever complete, find someone you can trust and share this dream with. Even if you don’t end up writing a story with someone, I highly recommend still finding someone you can share your work with, and with whom you can bounce ideas off of. Just as finding a running partner can help get you into shape, finding someone you can share your writing with can make a tremendous difference.
So get out there, find someone with similar ideas and dreams as you, and get to work creating something you never thought you could before! With the right help, we can all accomplish things we never dreamed of, and by doing so, share something with the world that was sorely needed by someone. Happy writing!