While most writing is generally considered to be an individual process, there are still many venues where a manuscript or document is completed through the efforts of two or more people. Specifically, collaboration takes several forms. The simplest form is that of two or more people jointly contributing to the completed content of a document or manuscript. Collaborative writing can also include more than one person contributing a specific component of the finished manuscript. It can include the editing and reviewing by more than one person or the working on an idea proposed by others. There are obvious benefits to the collaborative writing process.
With multiple writers exchanging ideas on a given topic there is a greater base of knowledge to draw from. This tends to create more informed information in the collaborative writing effort than might be had by a single individual using only their personal knowledge of a topic. With collaborative writing there is a greater possibility for discussion and debate on a topic. Through comparing what each individual believes, it is possible to more fully research a topic and expand on the facts. It can also help writers understand their strengths and weaknesses in an environment that allows them to learn along with their collaborators.
By having one’s work read by multiple people for the purposes of collaboration, there is a better chance that the collaborators will learn to write for an audience. As they learn to write with and for their collaborators, they will inevitably learn to better express themselves for the target audience of readers of the finished work.
There are a few strategies to collaborative writing that will increase the benefits to both the writers and the finished product. There is a need to define the components and objective of the project and an agreement on the forms of style and documentation used. Specific tasks must be delegated throughout the group and specific deadlines for the various aspects from drafts to revisions to proofreading set up and agreed upon. There must be a form of review as well as troubleshooting between writers to minimize any ego problems that crop up. A way to properly credit all those who collaborated on the finished work is also a great necessity.
As well as contributing to more comprehensive material and a greater depth of detail, collaborative writing has the benefit of teaching teamwork among the writers working on the project. This can be of benefit beyond the particular manuscript at hand. This collaborative writing effort can help develop the understanding of the writing principle for each individual to improve their personal writing skill and interpersonal relationship skills.
This does not mean that collaborative writing is easier than individual writing, it is not. It does allow for a greater chance that any errors, be they topic details or ones of grammar and spelling, will be caught and corrected before the document is put before the general readership. The benefit of collaborative writing for the reader is that they are more likely to have a well-written and researched manuscript to increase their own knowledge with.