We often get asked how do we collaborate? How do two people write together? Well, thanks to Google and technology, it was not that hard for us!

First we had a brainstorming session. We knew the topics we wanted to write about – that came easily to us through our friendship and through talking about the issues that were important to us. We spent some time brainstorming roughly what a story would look like and what we wanted our characters to be.

We knew as there were two of us, a natural thing to do would be to have two voices, two characters who were different yet were friends. Having two characters let us explore different perspectives, different writing styles and also the way different people might approach a problem. We didn’t take a character each – that wasn’t the point – we wanted Ellie and Alyssa to be part of the story together but to have different personalities, like us!

Once we had a rough idea of the story line, we just went for it! We set up a Google Document and as it allowed us to work in real time and at our own pace, we just contributed at different times and when the creativity suited us. We would spend our own free time putting down our thoughts without editing and the story naturally unfurled. There were no problems with version control or marking up changes – as the technology sorted that out for us. A big shout out to Google, because without being able to share a document, we would not have been able to write the book so collaboratively.

By having a friend to work with we were able to work through our writers block and our own self doubt. Gently encouraging each other on or picking up each other’s thoughts when one of us was stuck. We would add a comment or a question for the other, who would reply with an idea or another thought, and we would keep going, word by word. Sometimes we would call each other and have a discussion about where the story should go. Other times, we would text an idea that just came to us. We probably emailed or texted each other 20 times a day. We also see each other every weekend because of our children’s sports, so it was easy to keep up to date and move the writing along week by week building on our ideas.

Here are some of the things we learnt about collaborating as authors:

  1. Feedback is important and makes the story better. We were open to each other’s ideas and feedback. To be honest, we don’t remember any time where we couldn’t agree on a course of action after talking it through.
  2. We thought about our values and what the book’s core messages are, and we kept going back to them to make sure we were not indulging ourselves in our writing or in our characters.
  3. It’s great having a partner on the journey. You do fall into a slump, or you get busy because of work or personal lives or even when you just want to have a holiday, so it’s great to have someone pick up where you left off and cheer you on. We’ve got each other’s backs and that’s important.

Ultimately the story and its messages were a team effort and we wouldn’t have done it any other way.