In on-the-job situations, collaborative writing poses unique challenges and rewards. We write collaboratively in either of the following situations:
- when writing in teams for the organization's authorship
- when writing by ourselves for someone else's signature
Below is a summary of the benefits and drawbacks of collaborative writing as well as helpful hints to make the most of the experience.
Writing collaboratively offers at least five advantages:
- More confidence and less stress. Team members tend to support each other through the writing process, and writers do not feel intellectually isolated, as do individual writers.
- More ideas. Group brainstorming and planning sessions usually yield more creativity than do writers working independently.
- Diverse feedback. Revising, editing and proofreading should be more thorough and reader focused because of the diverse expertise of individual writing team members.
- Improved self-criticism. Team writers generally accept criticism knowing that group members share the same goal of an excellent finished product.
- Greater team building. Writing collaboratively usually generates greater respect among teammates.
Writing collaboratively poses at least three disadvantages:
- Increased time. Since more people are involved in the writing project, the number of work hours to produce the document increases significantly.
- Increased cost. As collaborators devote more time to the writing project, the organization spends more to produce the document.
- Uneven work distribution. Because some members are more adept at certain writing skills than their teammates, they may carry a greater burden in producing the finished product.
When writing collaboratively, be sure to consider the following tips:
- Establish a good working relationship with your collaborators.
- Focus on the final product before all else.
- Participate actively and constructively at group meetings.
- Accept criticism with an eye toward improving the document.
- Keep your content and timeline commitments.