Collaborative writing are group projects that often give a better final product than if individual writers are authoring works independently.
The collaborative writing process allows groups of writers or a writer and an editor to work together to author a finished work. This is a powerful tool in nonfiction writing where there is not a storyline to follow because all group members contribute to brainstorming and writing. Yet it does take some skill to collaborate efficiently and effectively.
This guide will help writers learn how to use group work to create better writing. By embracing the power of the team, a collaborative writing project can be a great success.
Tips to Make Collaborative Writing Successful
Before delving into a collaborative writing project and working as a co-author on an informative piece, you will want to learn a little more about how this works. Writing with a team is much different from writing as a single author. For a successful group writing project, consider these tips:
1. Use the Right Software
The tools you use to collaborate will impact the success of your project. Thankfully, you have many software options to choose from that allow you to collaborate. Some include:
- Google Docs: With Google Docs, you can all work on the document in real-time, or simply upload your pieces to the shared document.
- Microsoft Word: Word 365 now offers real-time editing options that allow group work to happen on a document using a URL.
- Dropbox: Dropbox makes it easy to send files to other people in your team for collaboration.
- Wiki Software: Wiki software, like the program used to create Wikipedia, allows multiple writers to contribute to a document.Slab is an example of a wiki you can use within an organization to collaborate with other team members.
2. Brainstorm Together
If possible, meet with your team at the start of the writing process for a brainstorming session. In this pre-writing stage, you will plan your thesis statement and the main focus of your writing project. You will begin sharing ideas about the direction of your final product.
During this brainstorming process, listen to your fellow collaborators to hear their ideas. The most successful writing project will take from all participants to craft a well-rounded argument and defense.
As you brainstorm, you may find that others in your group have very different ideas about the direction of the writing project. This is where critical thinking can help. Take time to listen to each other’s ideas and perform some basic research to find common ground so you can move forward.
3. Assign Roles and Writing Tasks
At this initial session, assign your roles. Decide who will research which portions of the argument, who will write which portions of the project and who will serve as the proofreader or editor.
When assigning roles and writing tasks, consider the strengths and weaknesses of each member of the project. Try to assign tasks that fit those roles. This will make your final piece stronger.
Make sure the roles and writing tasks are something each member can accomplish within the time frame. Do not put the deadline at risk by giving one writer too many responsibilities.
4. Choose How Writing Takes Place
In a collaborative writing project, you can either meet as a group to do the actual writing or assign portions of the writing and work independently on those portions. In the second model, you come together with your individual work, or add it to the collaborative document, and proofread the work as a whole at the end.
Both models have merit. If you choose to write independently, you will need to carefully outline your points during your brainstorming session. If you choose to write collectively, you will need to work to protect the time when you meet to write to ensure it is used productively.
5. Set and Keep Deadlines for Drafts
One of the potential drawbacks of collaborative writing is that you are relying on co-authors to get your project done on time. To avoid lateness, set and keep deadlines throughout the writing process.
For example, you may set a deadline for the initial draft of each author’s portion of the project. Then you may set a deadline for putting it all together and proofreading it. You can also set deadlines for finished first drafts and final drafts, and these should all be before your final project deadline.
6. Be Willing to Listen to Others
Successful collaborative writing happens because of teamwork, but this means you must be willing to listen to others. If someone has a different idea than you about a particular topic or argument, be willing to hear them out. By bringing all of your ideas together you will have a stronger finished piece.
7. Tackle Revising as a Group
When writing together, revising is just as important as the writing process. You need to include all team members in revisions to ensure that no one has their idea left out.
Consider setting up an in-person or real-time session when you can revise and edit the piece together. This will help you come to agreements more quickly on the project, so you can finish your work.
8. Use Editing to Adjust for Different Writing Styles
When you work on a collaborative writing project, your final project is going to have multiple writing styles represented. In the editing stage, try to pull those styles together into a more cohesive document that flows well. Keep the ideas from each author, but adjust the style so it reads smoothly.
Collaboration with Editors
Collaboration doesn’t just happen with group writing activities. It also happens when an individual writer works with an editor. If you can view your editor as a part of your writing team, you will be able to create a finished writing work that you are proud to publish.
Editors and writers can use group writing software to edit and change documents quickly. By taking a collaborative approach to the editing process, you can learn from the insight of your editor and make changes quickly to a document to get it ready for publication.
The Final Word on Collaborative Writing
Collaborative writing exercises can teach you about your own strengths and weaknesses as a writer. They allow you to learn from other writers, hone your critical thinking skills and improve your overall communication. With the right strategies, you can use this process effectively to create a great finished product.
FAQs About Collaborative Writing
What is collaborative writing?
Collaborative writing occurs when more than one author works on the same document, bringing together their ideas and writing styles to create a stronger finished project.
What are some advantages of collaborative writing?
Writing with a group of people gives you stronger arguments from diverse opinions. It also gives you more people who can help with the tasks of brainstorming and proofreading.
What are some disadvantages of collaborative writing?
Bringing together different writing styles and opposite opinions are both challenges of collaborative writing. Pressure from others in the group can cause a writer to step away from strongly held beliefs and opinions as well.