12 Days of Collabmas: Origin Story

Welcome, friends, to 12 Days of Collabmas! What is 12 Days of Collabmas, you ask? It’s a series where my co-writer Marissa and I get to tell stories about our friendship and our experiences writing stories together (honestly, two of my favorite topics.) If you’re interested in collaborating or co-writing with another human, then follow along with this series for a glimpse into the experience. We promise, collaborating is not nearly as intimidating as it sounds.

First things first: let’s set the scene of how our collaboration began. It was early 2016. I was in grad school, living with my parents in my childhood home. All my friends lived at least 4 hours away; we had gone from seeing each other every day to a couple of times a year. I truly had no idea if I was going to cut it as a therapist, or if it was even what I wanted to do with my life. There were only a few things that brought me joy at that time, one of which was fanfiction.

Maybe someday I’ll actually write a post about what an excellent training ground fandom can be for writers. I could go on and on about the ways fanfiction has enriched my life. I started posting in college and built up a body of work that I look back on fondly. But in 2016, fanfiction was more than just a creative outlet for me. It had become an escape from the uncertainty and loneliness I was going through. I posted a lot of short, one-off stories (‘oneshots’ for those who are familiar with fanfic terms) and got a lot of nice feedback. (That’s another great thing about writing fanfiction; if you are thirsty for validation, there’s a good chance it will come to you!)

Marissa was also writing fanfic at this time; she was just as deep in the fandom as I was. When she messaged me out of the blue to ask if I wanted to work on a story together, I jumped on it. It was exactly what I needed at the time without really realizing it. I was hungry for connection with someone who understood the fandom part of me, and who loved writing as much as I did. From there, it was basically seamless. We had the same instincts about pretty much everything we worked on, and we discovered that we had a lot in common besides just fandom things. Here’s my first free piece of advice about collaborating; you can’t force good energy with someone. When you find a writer you click with (both personally and during the writing process), you just know.

I’ve done a post similar to this before, about how collaborating with Marissa helps me feel less alone as a writer. Our working relationship/friendship is something I really don’t get tired of talking about (though you might get tired of hearing about it) because it has helped me through some of the darker times of my life. I’ll always be thankful to Marissa for reaching out. We ended up writing an entire novella-length work together, and now we show each other everything we write before anyone else lays eyes on it. We’ve even started developing an original novel together–our biggest challenge yet.

We are both really looking forward to this series, where we’ll expand on the collaboration experience, the nuts and bolts of story development, and suggestions for those who want to form their own writing collaboration. It’s all different when you let another person into your process, but we’ve found that it’s worth it.

Happy holidays! Stay tuned for more content here and on Marissa’s website; we’re excited to share it with you!

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