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Collaborating in the shadow of the Space Needle.

When I was a teenager in the late 1980s, I wanted to live in Seattle in the worst way. When I saw the movie, Singles, I felt like I was missing out on something important because I was living in Pittsburgh—just as gray as Seattle but not nearly as grungy.

Looking back now, I’m sure that I didn’t miss anything. I was right where I needed to be at that time. But I still have a fondness for Seattle and everything it represents, especially when it comes to the music of my generation—Generation X.

I was in my late teens and early 20s when the Seattle scene exploded. I’ve said it before, and I believe it to be true—the music of your late teens and early 20s shapes so much of who you become and what you value.

So when Zach and I had an opportunity to host a writers’ weekend retreat in Seattle, we didn’t hesitate.

I had been to Seattle before and therefore, didn’t feel the compulsion to do all of the touristy things like the Space Needle or visiting the museums in Seattle Center. And because we were there hosting a writers’ event with other people, that became my focus.

Instead of immersing myself in the Emerald City, which I would have a chance to do after the event, I put all of my focus on the people who had come from all over the country to share this experience with us.

Every single time I find myself in the real world, I’m reminded of how important it is to get out of my introvert cave and interact with others. The people who came to Sci-Fi Seattle are some of the most creative and fun-loving people I’ve met. This kind of bonding happens at all of our events, and I’m so thrilled and fortunate to have met these special authors.

Collaboration is not something that most authors consider to be part of their normal experience. It’s downright unnatural and unproductive for many writers. But once you turn the corner and see the magic in collaboration, it’s hard to continue storytelling the “old” way.

Zach and I developed a story idea out of thin air, based on the world-building session we had with the other writers at Sci-Fi Seattle. We had to start with nothing and then develop an outline to write our short story for the anthology we plan to publish with Molten Universe Media.

And in that room, other authors gave us suggestions for the story that we know will make it even better than what we could have come up with on our own.

The good news is that you don’t have to come to Seattle and sit in a room inside the Museum of Pop Culture with 15 other writers to get advice on your story idea. Yes, that was a trip of a lifetime that I’m sure all of the authors will never forget. But it is not necessary to go to that length to benefit from collaboration. Even if you plan on writing a story or novel on your own, getting feedback from others in the planning phases can be invaluable, as we’ve discovered on every single author event we’ve hosted.

You can certainly use a text-based method to collaborate—a Facebook group or email. However, getting into a live video conferencing situation using FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom, is certainly better. You can do this from your introvert cave and from anywhere in the world. Find a handful of other authors who write the types of stories you do and schedule a story pitch session. Get a timer and divide the minutes you have together by the number of authors in the group and let each person talk or share in whatever way works best for them. That’s it. It doesn’t need to be any more sophisticated or complicated than that.

If you try this once, you will understand the power of creative collaboration. It will feel manageable, fun, and not intrusive upon your creative process.

But I will say if you don’t do it in Seattle, you’re going to be missing out on a lot of great coffee.

Each week in this blog series, I’ll discuss what it means to live the author life, delving into topics about mindset, craft, audience, finance, publishing, self-improvement, spirituality, technology, and more.

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