6 Things to Consider Before Choosing a Writing Partner

Illustration by Ramiro Roman

I was a lone wolf in the writing and editing business for years. And, for the most part, I still am. However, recently, I’ve partnered up with two magnificent writers to form The Real Freelancer’s Resource Vault (with Samar Owais) and The Positive Bloggers (with Monique Muro).

Choosing a writing partner isn’t easy. I’d had failed attempts at collaborations in the past. There were projects that never quite got off the ground, projects that started and then collapsed, and even projects that were finished but never actually published. It was pretty frustrating!

However, after teaming up with two wonderful writing partners, I think I’ve finally got the magic formula for what it takes to succeed.

If you’re looking to partner up with another writer, keep these six elements in mind:

1. Choose Someone Who Can Write

This might seem obvious, but I have to state it anyway.

We all have friends who consider themselves to be writers…but not all of them are actually good at writing. You have to be able to look at a potential partner’s skills and be able to make that tough call: are they really a writer?

Don’t choose someone who wrote a book-length fan fiction in the eighth grade and continues to “dabble” in writing every once in a while. For a true writing partnership to work, they have to be a writer; and they have to be good at it. Or at least good enough to produce something workable (if you prefer to take on an editing role in your relationship).

2. Choose a (Sensible) Friend

It’s great if you can choose a writing partner who’s also a friend of yours. But make sure you choose a sensible writing friend.

I have several writing buddies, but not all of them are sensibly-minded. Many of them would prefer writing get-togethers to be ¼ writing and ¾ goofing around. And that’s a lot of fun, but it’s not great for productivity.

When I get together with Samar or Monique, we know we’re getting together to work. They’re both sensible, business-minded women who know when and where it’s appropriate to goof off. Yes, we have good times together – but not when we’re supposed to be writing/working.

Choose a friend who knows that you still love them, even when your head is buried in your (joint) work instead of talking to them about the latest episode of Gotham.

3. Choose Someone Who Believes in the Mission

If you propose a writing project to someone and their response isn’t “I freakin’ LOVE that idea,” then move onto the next person who will.

If you and your partner don’t fully believe in the project, then it’s not going to work out. Trust me on this – I know from experience.

To truly support each other, you both need to love and believe in the project you’re working on together. If one or the other of you has doubts, the other partner is going to suffer because of it. It leads to one partner, filled with belief, taking on the bulk of the workload, while the other partner, who’s kinda “meh” about the idea, just along for the ride. And that’s no fun for anyone.

4. Choose Someone Who’s Strong Where You’re Weak

This means acknowledging your weaknesses and being able to take constructive criticism. Which is why I suggested choosing someone you’re on friendly terms with. It’s much easier to accept when a friend tells you “you’re kind of weak in this area” than it is to have a total stranger give you that same critique.

This also makes it easier to divide up the work 50/50.

Don’t be afraid to assess each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Choose to work on the parts of the project where you know your work will truly shine, and make the project better. And have the strength of character to admit where you’re weak, and let your partner take on those tasks.

Remember: one of the reasons you’re partnering up in the first place is so you don’t have to do everything on your own! Let your partner’s skills have the chance to sparkle too!

5. Choose Someone with a Similar “Voice”

In addition to being a great writer, you’ll need to find someone who has a similar writing “voice” to yours, in order for your writing styles to mesh well and create a cohesive final project. A lot can be tweaked in the editing process, of course; but if your writing styles are too different, the finished work will be a mish-mashed mess, no matter how “good” the writing is therein.

For example, one of my best writing friends, Anca Dumitru, is a friggin’ brilliant writer. However, her writing style is much different than mine. Which is why we’ve never teamed up. Her writing style is very serious and “newsy” whereas my writing tends to be a bit more casual and goofy (like Samar and Monique).

6. Choose Someone Who Has the Time

Sometimes you find the “perfect” writing partner, but they just don’t have the time to work with you…

In this case, you can do two things:

  1. Find someone else.
  2. Wait until they do have time.

Working together on a project takes up a lot of time – on the part of both parties involved. Make sure that both you and your partner have that time to spare to work together. If either of you doesn’t have the time, then the project isn’t going to get very far.

And there you have it! The six elements you need in order to create a perfect freelance writing partnership.

Have you ever partnered up with a fellow writer? How’d it go? Let me know in the comments!

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