A collaborative writer is someone who works with at least one other person to produce a text and achieve a common purpose. Now, a group of writers can produce a lot of text. To ensure that all those pieces go together well, the team should agree on practices and tools while tracking progress throughout the phases of the project. This is the fifth of 10 laws of collaborative writing
Early on in a project, while the team is defining the project requirements, they should build a structure or process for:
- production and reviewing
- sharing materials
- editing conventions and styles
- quality assurance
- measuring and evaluating
When assigning roles to the collaborators, consider whether each function corresponds to what the document requires. You and your collaborators will look ahead and commit to a structured process, mapping its phases and progress. Often, there is a bottleneck effect. A large part of the project has to be reviewed by a specialist. If that person is not consulted about the project, he or she might not expect the work. Or if consulted, there may be an assumption that the role is smaller than it is. Either way, there is a risk of not meeting a deadline. Consult, agree, and plan.
The tools the collaborators use can enhance productivity. Tools should always support, not define, the collaboration, allowing people to work together effectively in applying best practices. It is easy to get caught up in building that wiki section while the project languishes. To support best practices, tools should include software or documents for
- sharing documents
- project tracking
- editing style (two examples: The Canadian Style, The Chicago Manual of Style)
- production and reviewing
Not all tools must be purchased. For example, a style sheet is a useful tool for a writing team and can be developed in house. It might be something the team develops over time during various projects. A process for developing the house style sheet could run parallel to the production itself. This is an example of collaboration and how it can enhance your current and future collaborative writing activities.
Following best practices and using tools effectively, your team will
- increase the speed at which the work can be accomplished
- share problem-solving and decisions, taking the load off each individual
- decrease the chances of error in the work
- increase productivity
- ensure business continuity among collaborators
All these will lead to project completion as you create value in each project that can be transferred to the next.
Featured Images is Transition Network Group Process by the Transition Network, via Photo Pin as cc