Saturday, October 29, 2016
How do you make a writing partnership last?
Here's a Friday Question that became a whole post.
It's from Dgm:
Beyond finding a good writing partner, how do you keep one? What happens when one wants to fly solo for a while or to "see other people" for certain projects? Do you address those issues up front in some sort of pre-nup-like agreement, or do you wait for the shit to hit the fan?
I can only speak for me and my partner, David. We generally write everything head-to-head, both sitting in a room together. But early on we decided to take one script assignment a season and split it up, one writing the first act and the other writing the second. We’d then put the two together and polish them together. The point was to feel confidant writing on our own. That way our partnership is one of choice not dependency.
The best partnerships have built-in flexibility. I won’t say “as you grow as artists” because the minute you think of yourself as an “artist” you’re destined to write “Tidy Bowl” commercials in five years, but as you fight the windmill that is showbiz your interests often do splinter somewhat. One may want to direct, write plays, or the far more common – desire to become a baseball announcer. Allow each other some room.
But make sure if you want to do something apart from the partnership you discuss beforehand. Don’t just spring it on him: “Oh, by the way, I’m going to polish the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy so I’ll be in New Zealand for the next two years starting tomorrow but I think they have cell service there.”
The key to a good partnership is that you have each other’s back. There will be times when you’ll have personal shit to deal with (your kids will only fall out of trees when a pilot is due) and he covers for you and likewise expect periods where you may have to shoulder the load while he’s in prison.
And most important: You both stand by the work you turn in together. The fastest way to end a partnership is to throw your partner under the bus during a notes meeting. “Yep, I told him it wouldn’t work.” By the time you’ve said “him” he’s texting that weird but funny guy at Starbucks asking if he wants to team up.
There will always be hurdles, tough patches. Our partnership is tested every Superbowl, World Series, Rose Bowl, and NBA Finals. We have never rooted for the same team once in over forty years. That we’re still talking to each other much less writing together is a miracle.