A new beginning for The Collaborative Writer!

The Collaborative Writer, a website I’ve been developing for quite some time, is finally up! Please visit, and consider becoming a member to join the community of writers who want to work with one another collaboratively, not competitively.

The goal of The Collaborative Writer is to help you rediscover yourself through your creativity.  Expressing your creativity is a process of rediscovery. As you allow yourself to explore your potential, your new self emerges. The Collaborative Writer’s supportive community exists to help you develop as a writer. Contrary to belief, writers are not born, they emerge over time.

This metamorphosis occurs more smoothly when you interact with other writers who can provide encouragement and reinforcement. Frequently, the biggest stumbling block to creativity occurs long before you ever start writing. Your own beliefs about what it means to be creative might be holding you back. We can explore these blocks, finding ways for you to visualise yourself as a writer.

Learning to believe in yourself and value your need for creativity is an ongoing process. Making time for this might seem to be a luxury, but self-expression is a necessary part of feeling whole. Through group interaction via the forum, the collaborative blog, or with me through one-on-one counseling, your identity as a writer will be strengthened. You’ll find contacts, friends, and resources at The Collaborative Writer that will guide you on your way to self-expression.

From Another Writer’s Blog: How to Find a Writing Partner

I’m going to paste this in from the Savvy Writer’s blog, although I would like to say upfront, I personally am not advocating that one find a writing partner specifically to find someone to critique your work. That is not the most important aspect of the writing process, from my perspective, especially since we don’t always know why we want to write, nor are we all looking to be published. A lot of the time, my writing is just for me; I don’t need anyone to critique it to tell me, after a lifetime of reading published writers, that it isn’t very good, or, conversely, that it is publishable.

However, this is not to say that published, and professional, writers, do not have this as a primary concern; of course they do. It’s just not the focus of the Collaborative Writer. The urge to edit is very strong in most writers; in my opinion, it is more than a bit of an evil, and needs to be overcome, otherwise we edit our writing out of existence.

I can’t stress this strongly enough: we are way too self-critical, and focusing on the end-product, via critique, seems like a viable goal until you find yourself blocked, with nothing to say, largely because you’ve painted yourself into a corner. You’ve been so self-critical, so aware of what you “should” have said, that you no longer even know what it is you’d like to say, or might need to say. 

So, this is my proviso, before you read Ms. Sebek’s otherwise excellent piece: keep in mind that she is mostly concerned with the end product, as she must be. But that doesn’t mean that all writers must think about the end product before they’ve even produced the product in the first place.

From the Savvy Writer: If you’d like to write a book or keep up with your blog, you may consider finding a writing partner who’ll motivate and inspire you to accomplish your writing goals. If you find the right writing partner, you could co-author a book together and wind up on the #1 Best-Sellers List! The key is to find someone who’s like-minded but also balances you. For example, if time management isn’t your strength, find a writing partner who has impeccable time management skills. You’ll learn how to cultivate this skill which can help you grow as a writer.

A writing partner can encourage you to say goodbye to writing gigs that keep you stuck. It may be scary at first but when you have someone supporting and telling you, “You’ll be all right,” it can make the transition smoother. You’ll earn more money because you’ll work on projects you enjoy. This will attract new clients to you because you raised your ‘vibration’ which makes you more attractive to clients.

Benefits to working with a writing partner
1. Professional criticism. Constructive criticism will improve your writing. After all, you don’t want to send shoddy writing to an editor, do you? Your writing partner can suggest how you can simply your sentences or more descriptive words. If you haven’t channeled your “inner editor,” a writing partner can point out errors such as the misuse of quotation marks (periods and commas go inside them). A writing partner can point out the overuse of exclamation points or the em dash. The feedback you receive is invaluable.

2. The melding of genius minds. Two heads are better than one, right? Perhaps you have an idea for a book but would like to co-author it. Finding the perfect writing partner means you know the idea or concept backwards and forwards; you know and understand the message. You have a clear vision and know the target audience. Choose a writing partner that isn’t caught up within their ego — this is why lawsuits unfold. The right writing partner is someone who’s open to brainstorming, adds value to you and the project, and is professional.

3. Motivation. Sometimes you’re not in the mood to write. A writing partner can motivate you to stay the course and accomplish your writing goals. If you’re stuck in your comfort zone, a writing partner can push you out of it. They can encourage you to take a risk and apply for writing projects you never dreamed of applying before. A writing partner will push you towards success and cheer you on without taking any of the credit.

4. Inspiration. Choose a writing partner that (sic) inspires you. Perhaps they wrote and published three books and coach other writers. Maybe they volunteer at a children’s organization and help young kids find their inner writer. Find a writing partner that (sic) will make you want to succeed in your writing career and do better.

5. Accountability. This word has been thrown around over the years by life coaches and therapists and has become overused; however, it still has some value. You are responsible for you. No matter how much a writing partner pushes you, they can’t use Harry Potter’s magic wand and magically make you accountable for your writing. You can only do this. Hold yourself accountable if you want a successful writing career!

Where to find a writing partner?
1. Networking events.
2. Social media websites.
3. Your local bookstore.
4. The library.
5. Local and online writing groups.

[And, of course, the Collaborative Writer and forum

If you think you’d like a writing partner, start ‘tweeting’ about it or post something on Facebook. Reach out to writers in your community and attend local writers groups. Make a list of the qualities you want in a writing partner. List your strengths and weaknesses and see where you could use improvement. Find a writing partner that’s willing to commit to the process, and you’ll be on your way to a fun and successful writing career. Good luck!
Rebecca @ http://savvy-writer.com/2011/05/how-to-find-the-right-writing-partner/comment-page-1/#comment-16243

Try to imagine a world in which writing is not difficult…

Waiting for the raindrops to collect

… and is not characterized by the metaphor of agonism.

To say, “writing is a struggle” or “writing is difficult” implies that writing is, of necessity, something we fight with. Writing is something we pursue, rather than something we allow to come to us.

When we write, then, we are active; not writing feels wrong, and we judge ourselves as being “bad,” or not being writers at all if we’re not  applying pen to the proverbial paper. In other words, it’s not okay, in a paradigm of action, to wait, to sit, to think, to let the thought percolate to the surface.

If instead we could revision writing as organic, where the impetus to write wells up from within, as a more gentle response to inspiration, I think a few things would change. For one thing, we would not experience writer’s block as it is currently thought of. I have taught seminars where the question I asked students is, “how does this block serve you? what is the writing block trying to tell you?” because usually, there are very good reasons why you’re not writing.

Writer’s block is not what we think it is a lot of the time; in fact, it’s often our mind’s way of protecting us against going into a subject we’re not ready to handle. Writer’s block might also be a response to pain, fear, boredom, loss of interest in the subject… any number of things stimulate writer’s block. However, most people get frustrated, because they’re not “supposed” to experience a block. It’s not how writing is “supposed” to work.

Everyone who wants to write, also wants the writing to flow smoothly, but that is unrealistic. We often feel forced or compelled to write when we really don’t feel like it–sometimes for a deadline, but too often because we believe that’s what’s expected of us as writers. It somehow feels like failure to sit, thinking, doodling, or daydreaming. We feel like we’re getting nothing done. In a different paradigm, however, this would be allowed. It would all be part of the organic flow of writing, to stare off into space, if that was what would clear your mind to allow the next new thought to emerge.

There is research that indicates that allowing the brain to rest, instead of aggressively pursuing the next thought or the next sentence, increases access to creativity. However, the most important place to begin is not with neurological research, but with acceptance that when we approach writing, we have learned to think of our relationship to writing and creativity as something we should expect will not be easy.

We believe it will be difficult, and unfortunately, our adherence to that belief system is part of why it is difficult–because we see words as something we must struggle with to “get right.” If instead we saw the word coming to us, and allowed words to permeate our consciousness, we could let the words gather and build momentum, until we had collected enough to start writing.

It’s a different way of thinking about writing, and it’s certainly a less invasive or painful approach.

I liken it to the Japanese water fountains you see in traditional gardens. Rainwater is allowed to collect at one end of a bamboo pole, in a hole or cup carved for this purpose. When enough rainwater gathers, it tips the pole down, until the rainwater falls into a stone bowl. Only when the rainwater is heavy enough can the pole tip; so too should we wait for enough thoughts, words, and inspiration to collect before we write.

I prefer this metaphor. It’s a much gentler way to treat yourself when you’re writing. You’ll notice that the rainwater never struggles to collect; it’s a natural process. No one says to the bamboo “you haven’t collected enough rainwater.” No one accuses the rainwater of slacking off. No one says to the rain clouds “you’re not working hard enough to fill up that fountain.” This way of thinking about an organic process would sound absurd, because you accept that nature works in its own time.

Then why can’t we, when we write? 

Learning how to wait for the right time is the essence of this approach.

All Writing Is Collaborative

Lady writing a letter with her maid: Vermeer, 1670-72.

Here’s why: even though I write alone at this moment, I share ideas with other writers. Other writers give me inspiration. I also could not write without outside influences affecting me, such as music, paintings, museums, films, screenplays… anything someone else has created affects me, makes me think, inspires me.  It’s one thing to have the impetus and will to begin a project; but it’s the inspiration derived from collaboration that keeps it going.

I used to think Descartes was the one writer who created alone in his garret, but it turns out I was wrong about that. It seems that he actually belonged to a collaborative group, as do almost all writers. He met with his friends at coffee houses, prevalent in the Netherlands, where Descartes spent much of his life. It was during those mostly friendly, but often argumentative, meetings that he worked out many of his theories.

There are innumerable examples of writers throughout the ages relying on one another for inspiration. Inspiration is the problem for writers and creative types, not isolation. Well, isolation is one problem, but it’s illusory. Writers never have to work alone; they do need to reach out to one another, however.

Think of the Bloomsbury Group in London (inhabited variously by Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf, E.M. Forster, and others) , the Inklings, which included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, in Oxford, and the informal literary group formed by expatriates Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein in Paris. These writers came together because they needed to talk to one another, to feel connected, to create new ideas. They stole from one another, and often got into arguments about plagiarism, but plagiarism, for writers, is the fine line between inspiration and innovation. It can be virtually impossible to know for sure who created what, when you work in collaboration. This can be a real problem, but that’s for another post.