Monday, June 22, 2015

How Much Teamwork Does a Solitary Writer Need?

Remember those group school projects you were forced into? Someone would write up the research, someone would do the oral report, and someone would make the poster. Each could emphasize their talent while learning to work in a group setting. Teamwork is an important part of sports, parenting, the workplace--even for the solitary writer.

Members of my extended family participated last week in the Wasatch Back Ragnar Relay Race. A team of 12 took turns running sections of 200 miles along Utah's Wasatch mountains over two days. In the months/weeks prior it was interesting to see the emails flying back and forth. There were posts about who ran how far that day, ordering team shirts, a cry for volunteers, etc. Two of my sons ran as team members, my husband drove the Van 2 group around, and extended family took other important roles. As for me, I mostly let them plow forward on their own without complaining. Job description: background supporter. But hey, performers need an audience just like authors need readers.

What does teamwork mean for writers? If the bare minimum for a soccer team member is practicing and playing in the game, a writer's equivalent could be practicing the craft and putting his project together. The soccer player who wants to go beyond the minimum will incorporate what her coach says, watch and learn from advanced players, and find ways to improve. Writers can learn from critique partners, conference classes, books they read, etc.

While it's true that most writing is done in solitary moments, writers who want to share their work must eventually become a team player. Start by being responsible to a critique or accountability partner. Expand to a critique group, beta readers, an editor or hired professionals. A publication and marketing team will come into play. Later on, readers will become part of the team; fans need a form of connection. Even if you only want to write, you will end up on a team. Be the best team player you can be: Work hard. Learn from others. Ask for and give help. Don't allow 'the team' to be all-encompassing.

What makes a good team member to you?

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