Group Projects, part one

No man dies to himself. No man lives to himself. Art is always influenced by others.

In the past 12 months, I have been a part of 5 different group projects--2 succeeded, 2 failed, and 1 still in progress. A lot of lessons learned came out of both the successes and the failures. When you fail, you can get up and try again. Or you can wallow in selfishness and blame everyone else.

I am picturing scenes from one of my favorite movies: Meet the Robinsons.

In the quote below, the Bowler Hat Guy is revealing that he is Lewis's childhood roommate. This is the moment when Lewis realizes the truths taught to him by his friend Wilbur and Mildred, the orphanage caretaker.

Lewis: Goob, I had no idea!

Bowler Hat Guy: Shut up! And don't call me "Goob"! How many evil villians do you know that can pull off a name like "Goob"? Bleh!

Lewis: Look, I'm sorry your life turned out so bad. But don't blame me you messed it up yourself. You just focused on the bad stuff when all you had to do was... let go of the past and keep moving forward...

Bowler Hat Guy: Hmm, let's see... take responsiblity for my own life or blame you? Dingdingdingdingding! Blame you wins hands down!

Two things you need for a successful group project: a good group and a good plan.

Group Qualities

#1. Shared vision.
In humility, I must say that my work is a culmination of inputs from so many outside sources: the books I read, the writers I talk to, the friends who edit for me, my life experiences. Yet I don't take input from people who don't share my vision. My husband shares my vision, and that makes him the best sounding board. He listens fully to my idea before he begins to interject ideas. He loves my characters, he enjoys my plots, and he likes my writing.

#2. Respect and trust.
For Unlocked, I worked with Wendy Swore. Prior to embarking on this project, we had been friends for quite some time before we ventured into this project together. We had swapped editing jobs for each other. We managed a goodreads group together. These little projects built understanding, respect, and trust. I knew what kind of writer and person she was.

#3. Common knowledge.
My friend and fellow author Renee Miller is an excellent resource to go to for editing. She has studied writing as extensively as I have and shares my opinions on what's the best way to do things. Sometimes she's more insightful than I am, but there is a common ground in the knowledge we share.

#4. Variant skills.
In publishing Unlocked, Wendy was handy with a camera. Jaimey was great with the turning Wendy's photos into a cover. I did the typesetting. Gwen made bookmarks. Everyone helped with the editing. So much to be done, and it never would have worked if we hadn't pulled together. No room for egos when you have a deadline!

More coming tomorrow on coming up with a plan.


  1. i really envy you, honestly.
    at least you've had a project already..
    anyway, how to join a group project?

  2. Very insightful, Rita. I've very much enjoyed working with you on group projects.

    Rollie might like to join the "On Fiction Writing" group at Goodreads.
    Participating in the exercises and getting to know people could give him opportunities for collaborating or for submitting some writing to projects that come along.

  3. How did I miss your blog post? My reader must have taken a nap. Your faith in my abilities is...well, for once I can't put something into words. I've worked hard (by hard I mean to the point of obsession) to both understand and excel at this writing thing so, thank you.

    Group projects are a great way to dig in and find both your strengths and your weaknesses. Despite one failure, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.


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