Collaborative writing involves creating a piece of writing with a group of people where every member makes a contribution. The process requires coordination, planning, and lots of communication along the way. Mastering collaborative writing at work involves becoming efficient and effective. When you can do this, you’ll have a higher quality document in a shorter period of time. Here are 4 steps that can help you master it:
1. Acquire the Needed Skills
There are lots of skills needed for effective collaborative writing in the workplace. Some of these skills include:
- Active listening
- Conflict resolution
- Ability to take criticism without becoming defensive
Which of these traits do you already possess? Are there ones that you need to work on developing? If so, get to work. Then, help your team develop these traits to facilitate the process of collaborative writing.
2. Determine Strategy and Roles
There are three strategies for collaborative writing:
- Serial: Each team member takes turn adding content in chronological order, delivering the document to the next person after completing his or her work.
- Parallel: Team members work on different parts of the document before bringing it all together.
- Collective: Break the work apart depending on each team member’s expertise.
For any given project you may use more than one—if not all—of these strategies. Determine which strategy you will use based on the members of the group and the types of documents you complete. Then, start thinking about the roles that each member of your team will play, such as leader, writer, editor, researcher, graphic designer, subject matter experts, webmaster, etc.
3. Hold a Planning Meeting
Before writing the document, you need to bring all team members together for a planning meeting. Discuss the nature and scope of the project. Create an outline to follow for the document, and determine everyone’s responsibilities for it. Then, establish a timeline. When will the final deadline be? How often should you meet together to check in on everyone’s progress? Make sure that everyone is clear on what is expected of them.
4. Communicate Regularly
Communication is key to collaborating with a group. Think about how everyone can share their ideas, such as through email or Dropbox. Feedback is important to make sure that the final product accomplishes your goals and is error-free. To provide feedback, you could use Google Docs or a Word document since they allow you to track changes, add comments, etc.
Collaborative writing at work may not go smoothly the first time. However, using these steps can set you up for success. And as you go, be sure to take notes of how the process goes to learn how to improve on your next collaborative writing project.