The biggest lesson this co-writing experience has taught us is that there are no clear-cut rules for success. We’ve learned so much on this first journey to publication (and we’re still on it!) that we thought we’d share. Here are just a few things we’ve learned on our path to co-authoring a book.
Know your strengths…
Maika: We say this all the time because it’s generally true. I’m a whimsical “pantster” and write by the seat of my pants and Maritza is a “plotter” and needs to know every step before she makes her characters take it. While this can make for some pretty contentious battles, I’ve personally learned how to have more structure in my writing while Maritza has learned how to sometimes let the story deviate from plan. We know that it really ends up working to our benefit to meet somewhere in the middle!
…But don’t ever pigeonhole yourself into one role
Maritza: This goes for any scenario but particularly in creative fields: stay open. It’s always good to know thyself and all that (Socrates would be proud) but never, ever stop growing. If you’re typically a plotter but feel the urge to write like your life depended on it without knowing what’s coming around the bend? Do it. It’ll probably be an amazing chunk of writing and you’re growing as an artist, which means more amazing work in the future. Woohoo!
Two heads are better than one…
Maika: A huge benefit of co-writing is having a built-in critique partner. Of course, that means you have to be honest with each other on what’s working (and what needs a little more loving). Big egos have to stay back in 2009 with Beyonce. And even though we’re all artists and can be sensitive about our shxt, there’s no denying that a little bit of editing never hurt anyone.
…But know when to stand up for your convictions
Maritza: Do you remember that story in the Bible where two ladies roll up to Solomon and were all like, “Hey, that’s my baby!” but there was only one baby? And then because there was no DNA testing (or anyone around to ask who gave birth to the baby???), Solomon suggested the baby be cut in half and each lady would get a piece? And then one of the ladies was like, “Yeah, that sounds reasonable. I’d be cool with that.” And then the other woman was like, “Uhhhh WTF THAT’S MY BABY NO JUST LET HER HAVE MY BABY WTF KING SOLOMON LIKE SERIOUSLY YOU’RE THE WISEST GUY WE’VE GOT???”
Well, that’s what it’s like when Maika and I resolve creative differences. We take it to court. We’ll talk out why our respective plot development is better than the other options, why it’s better for our characters, and what we’re ultimately trying to accomplish with the story. It’s usually pretty clear who’s more passionate though and we 100 percent follow the passion and the love in our writing. That’s who gets the baby.
Final Thoughts on Co-Writing a Book
Very dramatic, but there you have it! There are a few things to keep in mind when working with a co-writer but all in all it’s been a positive experience and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Working with a co-writer allows you to really hone in on your strengths. It also gives you the opportunity to have a built-in critique partner. Writing can be a very solitary task, but having a co-author allows you to have someone who understand the ups and downs of working through the creative process. And nothing beats having someone who understands!