Welcome!

Cheryl Reif headshotI'm a fantasy writer, daydreamer, and science geek currently based in sunny Boulder, Colorado. I have my PhD in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology (MCDB, if you want less of a mouthful). I put that degree to use creating detailed explanations for magic systems and mythological creatures; and, of course, the science background let me write about cool science and nature discoveries!

Join me Mondays and Thursdays to explore storytelling and the creative life—and how the old "rules" no longer apply.

It's time to rewrite the rules that hold us back. Don't you agree?

Time Savers for Writers: Collaboration Tools

In case you missed it, I’ve been writing about how writers can collaborate with others (writers, readers, spouses, fans) to supercharge their creative process. You can read previous posts here and here.

If you’re working with other people, coordination is key

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e_monk, Flickr

There’s no question about it: collaboration has its downsides. It’s tough to keep lines of communication open when you’re working with someone else, to make sure that you’re on the same page.

Information can quickly get lost in a flood of emails flying back and forth.

Communication fails can derail your forward progress.

Meetings, phone calls, and instant messaging can suck up valuable time and plague you with interruptions.

How do you keep a project on track? How can you communicate effectively, without letting the communication process overwhelm you?

Tools

It turns out that there are several communication tools that can help you keep communications clear and organized. Even better, all the tools I’ve listed have free options–and yes, even their free versions are pretty darned terrific. Check ‘em out–you’re sure to find one that suits your organization and scheduling needs!

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Ways Writers Can Collaborate – and Kick-Start the Creative Process!

Earlier this week, I shared some of the joys of collaborating with other creative types…but I think I missed something. It’s all well and good to talk about why collaboration is great for the creative process, but if you’re a writer–probably working solo from your home office–what does collaboration actually look like?

HansSplinter_Flickr-framed

Hans Splinter, Flickr

The Many Faces of Collaboration

I’m not expert on the collaboration front. I haven’t co-authored a book with anyone, for instance–the stereotypical form of writerly collaboration. However, I’ve found that kicking around ideas with other readers, writers, and daydreamers is a great way to improve my fiction writing.

It got me thinking: Where have I benefited from working with others on a project? What opportunities for collaboration have I stumbled upon, and what collaborative possibilities have other writers harnessed that I haven’t yet tried?

Here’s what I came up with, listed from least (“Level 1″) to most interactive (“Level 4″). Feel free to suggest more possibilities and examples in the comments!

Level 1: Soliciting Feedback

This is a great starting point for the novice collaborator: sign up for a conference critique, find a writing mentor, or join a critique group to solicit others’ views on your plot, story world, characters, etc. This is a great way to experiment with what it feels like to work with others on a creative project.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • When giving or receiving feedback, be sure to bring an open, non-judgmental mindset to the process
  • But also remember–you’re the owner of your project, so don’t let others squash your vision

These days, though, critiques from other writers aren’t the only form of feedback you can seek. You can also connect with “regular” readers. Share your writing on platforms such as WattpadFictionPress.net, or even your own blog or website–not for a critique, but to get a sense of what is and isn’t working in your stories.

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The Joys of Collaboration

COLLABORATE

A few weeks back, I told you about how working  with my brother-in-law and husband for two weeks of intense creative collaboration, putting together the framework for a transmedia storytelling project.

It was, in short, an awesome experience. Imagine working with a small group of people who are all excited about the same project, but all come into it with different professional backgrounds, different skillsets, and different ways of thinking. We’ve probably all heard about this sort of energized working environment, but usually in the context of startup companies.

Can writers create this type of idea-sparking meeting of the minds?

Apparently, yes. We can. Because those two weeks–although exhausting and demanding–were two of the best weeks of my life. They make me yearn to work with this sort of team on a more regular basis!

The only other place I’ve seen this sort of creative synergy is within my critique group, but never during the actual critique process. Instead, it seems to sneak in when two or three or four members start to brainstorm about how a story might play out differently, or what tidbit of backstory could bump a character’s motivation from blah to powerful.

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Christian Marie Herron, Strategic Storyteller + Brand Strategist

ChristianMarieHerron

Earlier this week, I shared my recent experience of working with a writing coach. And I’ve found it so beneficial, I wanted to share the love by introducing you, dear readers, to a broad spectrum of coaches with a broad range of expertise. For today’s guest, please offer a warm welcome to Christian Marie Herron, a coach who focuses on the business and branding side of being a writer and business person.

Christian Marie Herron is a Strategic Storyteller + Brand Strategist.  She is the founder and owner of Herron Media, a boutique, bespoke storytelling and branding company serving entrepreneurs and small businesses in a variety of industries.  Her joy is helping business owners weave together the symphony of their personal experiences, talents, and desires into a powerful Brand Story that helps them attract more clients and make more money.  She’s a New England native but currently lives in Florida with her husband and three children.

You can find her at www.christianmarieherron.com, as well as on social media:

Twitter  facebook linkedin

 

How can a writer decide if working with a coach would benefit them?

The majority of my clients are great writers already but need help weaving together all of their experience and talent in a clear, compelling way.  I think it’s tough to tell your story when you are in it so it’s really helpful to work with a storyteller who can help you pull out threads of your story that will really resonate with your audience. So if a writer is feeling overwhelmed with how to arrange their life experience and talent in a way that feels good and natural, then they may want to consider working with coach or storyteller.

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