Ever thought of co-writing?

Monday 3.30pm at Chase Street with Gillian and Priscilla (Felicity is somewhere between Uzbekistan and China on the Silk Road), we’re talking about creativity, feeling stuck, not being able to adopt the name “writer”, and how both academic writing and journalism have taught us to fear bad beginnings when we sit down to write. Then we begin to talk about co-writing and share our experiences of just how amazing it is to work two or more minds together on a writing project, how the awkwardness can give way to a flow and how writers together are more than the sum of their parts. In our experience these are some surprising exercises that have worked for us:

  • Academic co-authorship where you take the time to listen, talk and write/type together. In the moment you work through your ideas, hear each other and make decisions.
  • A poetry ping-pong: one write, toss it over the net, the other respond. Like that early computer game it moves in surprising zigzags.
  • From journalism: when two writers have completely different takes (for instance when they’ve both reviewed a piece of theatre), get one to sit down at the PC and start the story with a paragraph, the other takes over both responding and moving the document further along, then the other. A visual “he said, she said”.
  • On stage (working alongside actors): the audience produce words on paper, those words are shuffled and given to others to make sentences with, the “editor” then shuffles those sentences into a story. This all goes on while the actors do things extempore.
  • Play: the game consequences where you pick a name, pass on the next person adds an action, passes on.

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