Collaborative writing is exciting because thinking with others and sharing thoughts, experiences and ideas will only add value, and enrich a writing project. It’s a nice change from the solitary tasks of writing where writers are faced with their individual judgment to determine the quality and perspective of the piece. However, with collaboration, someone can contribute with editing, innovative ideas, and additional arguments. An extra eye is able to help spot mistakes, narrow down inconsistencies, and determine where there are holes in the argument. This is why peer feedback is always encouraged in writing workshops.
Lots of learners shy away from collaborative projects for fear that they will get stuck with all the work, and still get the same grade as the person who didn’t do as much. This is a possibility and has happened to many of us. However, today there are many cloud-based web-tools like Wikis and Google Docs that facilitate collaborative work and can track the progress of each collaborator. Furthermore, the benefits of partnering with someone who is equally enthusiastic as you are about a certain project, and who shares your work ethic, will create work that is much more powerful, and possibly have an impact on a larger number of people. It’s like someone who has a garden and only relies on his knowledge but by collaborating with someone else who can add their ideas about soil, different types of plants, vitamins and compost, it only benefits the garden. The more the people who collaborate on the garden have knowledge and expertise in gardening, the more likely the results will be in transforming the garden into a garden that is more attractive, one that more people will notice.
Similarly, for academic writing the collaboration is necessary and offers a type of mentorship between different levels of experts who all want to learn the same subject. These relationships are rewarding for both mentors and mentees because of the shared passion for the subject, and because mentors are feeling like they are passing on their knowledge and mastery to someone who will be capable to continue the work. The mentees in turn are excited to be learning and absorbing from someone who is successful, experienced and proficient.
The benefits of collaboration far outweigh its negatives, and we can thank technology for making collaboration easier and capable of crossing cities, borders, and oceans.