The Pre-Flight Checklist
Now in this craft for many years, I am sometimes reminded in very blunt ways that there are limitless variables that come into creating words on blank pages. Especially in collaborations.
Professionally, I’ve collaborated on three projects to this point. The first screenplay was a spec gig that ended up being wildly successful, and the second one is shaping up to be the same. Truthfully, it’s just magnificent. But where there is light, there must be darkness nearby. The most recent of the three was a total disaster from the get-go.
I can’t stress how important eye contact and interpersonal skills are when you’re trying to communicate to another person, especially if you don’t know the person very well. You’re both ambitious, and want to get working as soon as possible, this is entirely recognizable. But feel each other out first; don’t just leap into storytelling madness without understanding your creative compatriot at least on a basic level that you both are able to consistently recognize. Even if it’s at the lowest common denominator. Usually that means finding a mutual appreciation of dick and/or fart jokes, which is never a bad thing unless one of you is fundamentally humorless. Should this be the case, you have an entirely different problem on your hands that has nothing to do getting words on the blank page.
Personal horseshit aside (because there is always personal horseshit at some juncture), the real important thing about creating something with another person (or many people) is communication. And not just any kind of general communication: it must be efficient and verbal, in person. This means that if you do end up meeting someone online to discuss a project, don’t just email and instant message them back and forth. This also means that texting each other while you’re on the potty will yield fruitlessness in both your bladder and in the writing collaboration altogether. Things always get lost in communication when you remove the inflection and unique verbosity of what you’re trying to convey. It would defy the very laws of human nature for this not to happen.
I’ve learned this the hard way and it’s never a welcomed experience at the time. However, it is something that a writer will go through in their burgeoning career. Every experience that a writer notches up is exactly what makes them a writer, from reading books written by others to living their own lives as they actually have. With pain there is joy, and it’s absolutely worth it all. Never think there isn’t payoff to the toil, because there absolutely is in more ways you could ever conceive.