Collaboration is about working with other people. Many hands make write work! And cupcakes have been known to make projects hum along nicely.
Collaborative writing involves many different kinds of expertise, since contributions are collected from various people and sources. Often that can be a lot of fun. When things don’t go well, though, nothing will smooth the process out better than mutual respect—beginning with the self. This is the second of 10 laws that any organization’s writer, editor, translator, and manager must own.
Often writers are virtually unknown in their organizations. They may even jokingly call themselves “ghost writers.” Although writing is often seen as a way of promoting ideas and getting credit for ideas, working in an organization means promoting the ideas of the organization. No byline is no good for many writers. Then to have dozens of others check your work and comment on it? Most of us want to run from this. For this reason, business writers tend to fall into a writing role or shift into one over time. They take well to the group process.
A business writer does not usually convey a message for which she is the primary authority. Writing is a shared responsibility in most business or organizational contexts. Collaboration becomes part of the way a writer works in an organization.
Recognizing one’s own role and the role of others are the first signs of respect. Each collaborator’s reason for being involved in a project may be driven by a combination of work priorities and factors unique to the individual. Good collaborators take time to understand their motivation because it sets the tone for working with others. They understand they are part of a process and how they add value to it.
Photo credit: RP cupcakes were baked, photographed, and sold to a collaborating team (for charity) by the inimitable Jenn Ellis.