Tips To Be A Good Creative Collaborator/Partner

Thinking about writing a story or developing an RP with someone? Or are you perhaps already in the middle of it? Here's what to know and do so you can be a good collaborative partner - without being a passive doormat.

Make sure you have the same general goals in mind. If one of you is trying to write a steamy romance story while the other is trying to write a mystery/adventure thriller, you're going to find yourselves at odds a lot. Make sure you discuss and come to an agreement on your project's goals. Something else you can do to make extra-sure you're on the same page is to explain the idea as you heard it back to the other person, then ask if you've got the right impression.

Offer suggestions of your own. Simply asking the other person questions like "so do you have any ideas? or "is there anything else you want to do?" isn't creative collaboration. Nor is simply saying "yes" or "no" to what other people suggest to you. Creative collaboration requires that all parties involved actually contribute something. If all you do is ask questions or give answers like this, then all you are is a creative parasite. Making everyone else do all of the creative heavy lifting isn't fair or considerate, so make sure you offer up some suggestions of your own.

Even if you technically are "fine with anything," try to give out some specifics anyway. If someone asks you'd be interested in and you say that you're "fine with anything," you're being very unhelpful. People usually ask about what sorts of things you want or what you'd be interested in to try and narrow down their options to figure out where to go next. Even if anything technically is fine with you, try to list a few specific and concrete examples to give the other person something to go on.

Listen to other people's suggestions. On the other end of the creative pest spectrum are the people who disregard everyone else's input and do everything their own way, or just don't even give them a chance to come up with anything in the first place. If the only ideas you care about are your own, why are you even trying to collaborate in the first place? Either start listening to other people or go solo.

If you find yourself constantly dismissing other people's ideas, something is very wrong. Either you're way too protective/territorial over the whole thing, or you're trying to work with people whose tastes and preferences are too far removed from yours.

When someone else suggests something, try to build up from it. If somebody makes a suggestion or offers some basic ideas, stop and think about what you might do with them or where you might take them. Suggest a few of them and see what the other person thinks.

Know how to give constructive criticism and how to speak up for yourself without being rude. Basic Advice For Giving Useful Feedback To Creators and How To (Nicely) Speak Up, Assert Yourself, & Ask For Things In Your RPs (And Why You Need To) have tips on this.

Know what a creative parasite looks like. Creative parasites essentially make you come up with the vast majority of ideas and do all the creative heavy lifting while contributing very little (if anything) themselves. They might expect you to be able to come up with idea after idea on a dime whenever they want (essentially, treating you like an idea vending machine - which, not only is that just unfair, that's what random generators are for). When confronted, they might throw a hissy fit or act like you're being rude or unfair. Being a good creative collaborator/partner does not mean letting people like this walk all over you.

Be prepared to compromise. Your creative partners might find some of your ideas extremely uncomfortable to write about, or they might be so unfamiliar with the subject matter they wouldn't be able to write about it even if they wanted to. In cases like these, you're going to have to make concessions for them and go with something else. Sometimes, your creative partners will have their own ideas about how things should be done or how things should happen. In this case, you'll need to diplomatically discuss why you think things should be done a particular way and determine where you are willing to adjust and change your ideas to find something you can both agree on.

Also take a look at:

Universal Creative Tips For Everything & Everyone
How To Recognize Bad Creative Mentors

What To Do When You Have A Character, But No Plot
How To Generate Ideas With Playing Cards

Skills Every Good Roleplayer Should Have
Basic Tips To Create And Run A Good RP Plot

Guilt Tripping: What It Is And Isn't, And How To Deal With It
How To Spot Abusive & Manipulative People

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