The unwritten rules of collaborative courtesy

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Collaboration on writing is hard enough. It can work only when there is a shared understanding of process and assumptions. Some rules and conventions regarding writing collaboration seem obvious to me — so obvious that I never mention them, because an experienced writer would find it insulting. Then a perfectly well-meaning collaborator will break such … Continued

Don’t let version confusion destroy your writing process

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The most fundamental principle in writing is actually . . . version control? It’s an unwritten rule. Like changing your underwear every day. And if you violate it, you are a barbarian. This is the least sexy writing advice ever. But if you and your collaborators don’t share a common understanding of version control, you’re … Continued

Writing a book with Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Drive

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I’ve been working on a collaborative book project with two other authors. On this project, I’m the principal writer; they are my clients. Here are a few things I learned about the superiority of Google Docs and Google Sheets for collaborative authoring. Using Google Drive for shared access to research My collaborators and I work … Continued

Collaborating on a book is a terrible idea. But if you must, be asymmetrical.

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Writing a book is hard enough. Adding another person makes it twice as hard. Collaboration only makes sense if it’s asymmetrical — if you have complementary skills and different jobs. I’ve written three books with coauthors, edited a few more, and am currently ghostwriting parts of books with other authors. Coauthoring sounds like it’s going … Continued

A simple Google Sheets hack for project planning

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If you’re working on a simple project with a small team, there’s no quicker way to keep track of everything than to use Google Sheets. All you need is a tiny bit of discipline. There are scores of sophisticated tools for project management. Or, you could link your to-dos lists together, provided your team all … Continued

7 collaboration tools and tips that make book writing go smoothly

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Collaborating on a book is hard. Deadlines make it harder. The key is to develop a disciplined process and stick with it. To help you get to the end without tears, I’ll share some battle-tested collaboration tools and tips that will keep you focused on content excellence, not process glitches. (You’ll see where the bear … Continued

The Slack letter to Microsoft is built on meaningless platitudes

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Slack wrote an open letter to Microsoft, ostensibly welcoming it to the market for workplace collaboration systems. It’s a weird hunk of prose, direct and honest on the surface, but fundamentally insincere. The choice to publish this letter — and to fill it with platitudes — makes me question the judgment of the company. Here’s what happened. … Continued