Co-authoring. Is it for you?

J. L. Harland • June 27th, 2021

Five reasons why you might find co-authoring is not for you. This week we look at the disadvantages of co-authoring.

Last time on the blog we talked about the advantages of co-authoring but, although it works well for us, it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some authors are horrified at the thought of someone else interfering with their work, criticising or commenting – no matter how well intentioned. So, despite the fact we find it enjoyable to create something together, and have a lot of fun doing so, we acknowledge there could be disadvantages and barriers to a good co-writing relationship.

1. Ego

If you are going to write with someone else there is no point in being inflexible or precious about your own writing. That is the route to argument and disaster. You have to develop an objective approach to the project and if it’s not working then find out why. If you are likely to have a sulk if your partner says that the carefully crafted paragraph you have written doesn’t fit the story or plot, then co-authoring is not for you.

2. Working together can be slower

That may not make sense but if you are working with someone else then consulting over the characters and plot points can take longer. If you are editing together and tweaking each draft, then passing the piece of work backwards and forwards between you can take longer. For one short story we wrote together we were on version fourteen before it began to take shape. Plus, of course, some writers take longer than others to produce a draft and that creative phase can’t be hurried.

3. Confusion

Multiple drafts being transferred from one to the other can cause confusion, especially when going through the editing process. It’s essential to have a system that works for you and your writing partner otherwise you could both be working on different versions of the same document – unless you use sharing software, of course. Even that isn’t ironclad against confusion.

4. Disagreements

In every relationship there are disagreements. If you are the sort of person who can’t compromise, then don’t consider writing with a co-author or choose your writing partner with care. Is it worth arguing over the name of a minor character? Does it matter what colour of a car the protagonist drives? Those are minor issues. Anything more major can be discussed at length and, if you have a good relationship, worked out together. Communication is key.

5. Life problems

Everyone has complications in life. As we’ve discussed before on this blog, the unexpected can change plans overnight. We both have families, commitments and separate lives to lead. When there are two of you working together those life issues are doubled. With the best intentions in the world things happen over which you have no control. Multiply that by two and those difficulties can cause major glitches in the goals and timescales of your project. It’s always best to factor in time for the unexpected – if you can.


Despite those possible disadvantages we enjoy our work together and support each other in individual projects as well. Just because you co-author doesn’t exclude you from writing as an individual. We both work on other ventures alongside our work together.

If you co-author, have you found any of these points resonate? How do you resolve any issues?

Keep writing.