When family and friends get together, stories are often shared (and new anecdotes are created!). Co-writing with family or friends can be a fun, rewarding, and sometimes hilarious experience. But keep in mind: Working with another writer can also introduce the need for compromise. How do you navigate the potential pitfalls of co-writing with close friends or relatives? At Writer’s Relief, we know it helps to have a good sense of humor. Here are our lighthearted—and very useful—tips on how to survive co-writing with family or friends.
Guidelines For Co-Writing With Family And Friends
- Establish A “No Throwing Tomatoes” Rule
Not every story or poetry idea is going to be a winner. But remember, you’re co-writing with someone you care about. So, establish a rule: no throwing tomatoes, literal or figurative, at each other’s ideas. Instead, gently suggest alternatives or improvements. If Grandma suggests writing about the best liniments for an aching back, maybe redirect to how she got her tired muscles—was it from marching as grand marshal in the town parade, or by winning first place in her seniors’ tae kwon do competition?
- Use The “Crazy Uncle” Technique
We all have that one family member or friend who’s a gold mine of eccentricities. Your crazy uncle or daredevil aunt can be a source of inspiration! Uncle Vince’s attempt to teach squirrels to sing or that time Aunt Erinn’s hot air balloon landed in the middle of a dog show can be the jumping-off point for a great character, plot twist, or side plot. Just remember to change the names to protect the innocent (or not-so-innocent).
- Play “Pass The Story”
Turn your writing session into a fun game for everyone. Write a paragraph or a scene, then pass the story to your co-writer, who will continue where you left off. This can lead to some unexpected and hilarious twists and turns. When your friend Pat’s story about walking down by the river becomes a story about alien abduction when your sister adds to it (and the aliens are all Elvis clones, thanks to your neighbor Rashell), you might discover the beginnings of a unique story idea!
- Embrace The Power Of Snacks
Snacks keep the energy level high and fuel some of the most creative concepts. Keep a stash of everyone’s favorite treats on hand. Just watch out for crumbs in the keyboard! And erm…no, we don’t know who ate the last snickerdoodle…
- Create A “Wall Of Weird”
Have a corkboard or whiteboard on hand to track any notes or sparks of creativity. Whenever you come across an odd fact, unexpected quote, or quirky story idea, be sure to place it on the board.
Your cousin Jess is wearing two different color socks? Write it down on the whiteboard. Pop’s hound dog snuck into the kitchen and ate the apple pie? Stick a note about it on the corkboard! Mom’s shouting at the little ones to come inside before they’re eaten alive? She may mean by mosquitos (or a bear), but make sure you add it to your posts. Your “Wall of Weird” will be a great source of inspiration when you’re struggling with writer’s block.
- Remember, It’s Supposed To Be Fun!
Writing with friends and family requires a special level of cooperation and patience. If you find yourselves arguing over a plot point or character trait, take a break, have a laugh, and when everyone’s ready, dive back into the scrumptious food and the writing!
And if you eventually create an edited, polished short story, poetry, or novel based on your work with your co-writers, our research experts will target the best markets for your work and boost your odds of getting published! Learn more about our services and submit your writing to our Review Board today!
Each writer has unique needs and goals. We will help you navigate traditional roads to publishing or provide expert guidance on the path to self-publishing from an experienced team of strategists.
Question: Which guideline for co-writing with family and friends will you try?