5.1 Collaboration: How to Make It Work


by Janet Riehl & Stephanie Farrow

Read a 2-part conversation between Janet and Stephanie as they reflect on 37 years of collaboration. These are the third and fourth posts in this blog-of-the-month series.


Part 4


Collaboration: How to Make It Work

Some people do. Some people don’t.
Collaborate. It can land you on your face or make your life and work more fun
and productive. For our keynote post on collaboration we’ve identified eight
tips to make it work.

This Telling Her Stories
post dovetails with Riehlife's blog-of-the-month theme. In February my blog-magazine features two
interviews by two pairs of seasoned collaborators.

You know the first pair, Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler, either from their columns here or from their richly resourceful Women's Memoirs site.  On Telling Her Stories Kendra's column is "Getting Read," and Matilda's column is "Opening Salvos."

Kendra and Matilda identified five tips from their 30-year collaboration as business partners,
authors, and friends. Their helpful interview runs in two parts on Riehlife. In
Part 1 they tell how they met and began working together. In Part 2
they identify and discuss their five tips.

The second two-part interview features
my collaborator Stephanie Farrow and myself as we reflect on our 37 years of
working together designing workshops, writing, and laughing.

Looking over Kendra and Matilda’s five
tips, Stephanie and I found we agreed with all of their points and added a few
of our own. Here’s the list we came up with to make collaboration work.

#1 Choose a partner you know, like, and
share interests and experience with.

#2  Build trust and truthfulness.

#3 Check your ego at the door. Honor the
other person’s ideas and share the credit.

#4  Know your collaborator’s
work ethic, sense of purpose, discipline, and desire for quality work.

#5  Know how to balance
strengths and skills. Divide the work load accordingly.

#6  Know and honor

#7 Deepen trust, truthfulness, and ways to resolve conflict.

 #8 Stick to it and have fun!

Our next post in the collaboration
series on Telling Her Stories focuses on trust. Our last post will further
deepen the theme of collaboration.


Pose questions about practical
creativity; give ideas for future cycle themes; and join in the dialog in the
comment section below.

See the Creative Catalyst archive at: http://storycircle.typepad.com/scn/creativity. 

a free download of a 10-minute audio from“Sightlines: A Family Love Story
in Poetry and Music” at http://www.riehlife.com.

5 responses to “5.1 Collaboration: How to Make It Work

  1. I love the balance in these suggestions. The right writing partner can make all the difference. Thanks so much for sharing this.
    Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers

  2. Dear Lynne,
    Just visited your website that dispenses such useful advice to writers.
    Love to know more about your experience with a writing partner.
    See the subtitle of your book: Journaling for Cargivers, you might enjoy reading an exercise I gave at the 5th Annual Integrating Spirit & Caregiving Conference which focused on end of life and elder Care. Naropa University Extended Studies and the Center for Contemplative End of Life and Elder Care sponsored the conference.
    “I Remember”–workshop exercise and group poem for Giving Sorrow Words http://is.gd/8zVpp
    Janet Riehl

  3. Hi Janet,
    I’ve worked with a variety of writing partners. The best ones tell me what they love in the work and what trips them up. The ones who open my eyes by telling me what they got from the writing are the best. I just spoke with someone who told me I was writing about a moment of grace. I would not have labeled it that way, but she opened my eyes.
    I like what you did with “I remember.” That exercise can be such a great memory trigger and I love the team effort. If I can offer you any help with caregiver conferences, please let me know.
    Thanks for your kind words about Writer Advice, http://www.writeradvice.com. If you are not opposed to contests, we’d love to have you enter Writer Advice’s Fifth Annual Flash Prose Contest. Details, deadline, mailing address, and guidelines are all on the home page.
    Take care,

  4. Thanks, Lynn…in another series we’ll look at writing buddies in particular. That is my favorite over critique groups. I’ll recall you’re good examples.
    Janet Riehl

  5. Thanks, Lynn…in another series we’ll look at writing buddies in particular. That is my favorite over critique groups. I’ll recall you’re good examples.
    Janet Riehl

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