Still more on pairing

Johanna reports on our continuing adventure in pair writing here, Her lessons learned for the week (high overlap with my lessons learned) are:

  • We don’t have the same default ways to write — and that’s ok. The manuscript is richer for us talking through how the words should be.
  • When we’re laughing out loud, we’re synching. Not quite in flow, but close.
  • When one snaps at the other, it’s time for a break.
  • The product is much better than it would be if we did the standard one-person-write/other-person-edit pass back and forth. We tried that. The writing is crisper. The word choice is better. The manuscript flows.

Alan Francis writes about a completely different sort of pairing in pair-enting on his blog, and ends with this comment on the power of working with a partner:

It’s hard to do the right thing (instead of the easy thing) without the moral support of a partner.

When you’re on your own, struggling with a hard problem, take the easy way every time…if you’d rather do something else, get some help.

I’d add:

  • When one person is stuck, the other may have an idea to get unstuck. Many times one of us would be able to come up with a different phrase, or clarify an idea when the other was struggling. At one point, we were having a really hard time with a paragraph and couldn’t agree on what to do with it. Johanna suggested that we independently re-write the paragraph. We did and that broke the logjam. We used parts of each re-written paragraph and then added some more.
  • When one of the pair feels down-trodden, the other may not, and can keep the momentum up.
  • It’s much easier for the person who isn’t typing to see typos. I’m wondering if next time we can reach an agreement to fix typos in a separate activity. Sometimes it’s a bit much to have every little nit pointed out as you’re typing. (Yes, I snapped.)
  • I suspect there are some people who don’t take to pairing — either they don’t like it or they think they like it, but their idea of pairing is “we’ll do it my way.” Makes it even more important to consider interpersonal skills when hiring for a team pairs or collaborates closely.

I’m contemplating another writing collaboration, and I think I’ll suggest pairing.

And finally: I know there’s an endless supply of words in the universe, but most of mine seem to be flowing into the book right now.