Saturday, October 29, 2005

Tips on Collaborative Writing

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:

  1. 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.
  2. More ideas. Group brainstorming and planning sessions usually yield more creativity than do writers working independently.
  3. Diverse feedback. Revising, editing and proofreading should be more thorough and reader focused because of the diverse expertise of individual writing team members.
  4. Improved self-criticism. Team writers generally accept criticism knowing that group members share the same goal of an excellent finished product.
  5. Greater team building. Writing collaboratively usually generates greater respect among teammates.


Writing collaboratively poses at least three disadvantages:

  1. Increased time. Since more people are involved in the writing project, the number of work hours to produce the document increases significantly.
  2. Increased cost. As collaborators devote more time to the writing project, the organization spends more to produce the document.
  3. 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.