Many of the problems that crop up are exactly those that writers working alone face.
- Insufficient research
- Scenes or stories that require a higher level of craft
- Starting in the wrong place
- Working from the wrong point of view
- Having a secondary character take over
- Unnecessary detours
- Life gets in the way
- A loss of enthusiasm (which seems to strike almost all writers halfway through the book)
- And more.
- Do I think a criticism of my writing is a criticism of me?
- Am I good at diagnosing story problems?
- Do I have good interpersonal communications skills?
- Do I avoid conflict until it becomes nuclear?
- Do I always have to be "right"?
- Do I blame others when things go wrong?
- Do I have an ego the size of Mall of America?
- Am I closed to compromise?
- Do I consider challenges to my "vision" to be deranged?
But beyond personalities, there are some projects that are not good candidates for collaboration. I would never collaborate on a personal project that involved exploring sensitive, questionable, or private aspects of myself. No partners need apply for work on a project designed to be the keystone of my career. If I am taking huge risks, I'd rather take them alone. And if the project looks like a blockbuster in the making, I'll get the novel done and put off collaborating until I get a call from Spielberg to work on the movie.
Collaboration can be a joyful and productive experience. But it can also be an ordeal and a time suck. So think hard about yourself, your partner, and your project before you jump in.
Have you had a dream collaboration? Or a nightmare partnership? What did you learn?