Polygamy

James Patterson has published 10 new books so far in 2016 and he’s been humming along at this pace for quite a while now. Ever wonder how he manages to do that? Here’s the answer – he co-authors. He justifies this by maintaining that ‘collaborating with others brings new and interesting ideas to his stories’. Of his process, he say that he is ‘simply more proficient at dreaming up plots than crafting sentence after sentence’.

As of 2014, Patterson’s books have sold more than 300 million copies, which represents a big, fat bandwagon that’s ripe for jumping on.

Here are some tips on how to successfully collaborate with other people:

  • Identify your core strengths. Some authors are best at dreaming up compelling stories and plots (such as Mr Patterson), others are good at writing quick first drafts of novels (like me). Wordsworth claimed that he had certain powers of imagination, but limited powers of invention (make of that what you will). Andrew Motion stuck to biography (and the odd dash of poetry) for a long time because he loved to research the known and then add the ‘unknowable’ (his speculations) on top of that. Try going through the entire process of writing a novel and whichever point you get stuck at – that’s not going to be your strength.
  • Get someone else to do the rest. There’s no point spending your short and precious life doing things that you’re not good at or that you don’t enjoy. Here are some ways to get other people to do the other stuff:
    • Hire someone poorer than you (a student?) to do the redrafting and editing. Yes – I know people that have done this, and it’s all turned out quite well.
    • Join a writing forum, make friends with your fellow passengers and then offer them the opportunity to read and comment on the first draft of you book.
    • Hire a professional editor to turn your rough draft into polished prose, and here’s the good news – it’ll only cost you two or three thousand pounds!
    • Do a course or get a job doing the thing that you dislike doing. It may be that you just didn’t know enough about your ‘weak area’ and so can grow from the experience.
    • Advertise on Craigslist for someone to do something writerly for you. Specify how much you want to pay and how quickly you want it doing and then let them get on with it.

Of course, life isn’t quite as simple as that. If you find it difficult to do something, it generally means that your heart just isn’t in it and you need to consider doing something different with your life. Either that or you’re eating too much garbage and it’s having a mood dampening effect on you, thus making even getting out of bed in the morning an effort.

Do you ever feel like that? If so – what’s your favourite way to get over it?

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20 thoughts on “Polygamy

  1. Finding someone poorer than me … At first I thought, that will be a challenge. But I was just thinking of my little part of the world. In the big picture I am as rich as a king. Thanks Robert.

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    • There’s more to life that money and less to life than money and that makes money kind of mediocre really. I’ve been very poor and I’ve been moderately moneyed and neither state really affected my happiness much. Yeah – you’re the king of all you want to be king of, John. 😀

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  2. When I get stuck on some part of writing I set it aside for a while and do something else. Then I can go back to it and hopefully get unstuck. I don’t mind the writing but sometimes I get stuck on figuring out what should happen next. Writing is easy. Figuring out what the character or story should do next is more difficult for me.

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  3. I’ve read loads of his books and my kids have read many of his books written for teenagers. He’s a great author but I actually think some of his most recent stories, co-written with others, haven’t been as good as some of his original works. Maybe writing alone and with passion is the key to real success. But then again perhaps the $$$$ have taken over. 🙂

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