My mother gave me a set of journals with this quote on the inside cover :

This is a space for ream words, love words, made up words, flying words, fall down and get up words. Get to know the sound of your own inner voice. Be creative. Be generous. Be bold.

And therein lies the ONE piece of advice I promised to share last week, BEFORE beginning a collaborative writing project. “Get to know the sound of your own inner voice.”

Write something of your own. Completely your own. Separate from the collaborative work you are thinking of writing. A novel or close to it. NaNoWriMo is an outstanding event to get your nib wet. Take time to learn how your write, how you think, how you plot, how you carve out writing time in your day, how you manage deadlines, how you learn the craft. (Yes, you must learn the craft.)

You will not create the same way as your partners. Knowing yourself and how you write will save you some measure of frustration and self doubt as the words seem to flow from their fingers and you can’t remember where the comma goes. It will help you explain and understand why you need to work linear or not. You will be better equipped to defend a character’s words or actions if you know why YOU think it’s true.

Now, some of you who know our history together writing and even Constance and Sheri may be scratching their heads wondering if I don’t believe the months or years spent writing fiction together count. No. Writing fanfiction, round-robins, episodic stories is not the same as writing a novel. One of our first mistakes was foolishly believing we had enough words and time under our belt we could easily make the leap to a novel(s).

Know yourself and as Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” If you cannot communicate your voice to your partners simply, you haven’t found it yet and you will be five years into your project writing blogs about how to avoid the mistakes of collaborative writing.

What is your one piece of advice for collaborative work?