Writing is primarily a solitary activity. But, as Stephen King wrote in On Writing, “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open”.
At some point you will share your work with someone for editing – and that’s where the art of writing gets technologically tricky.
Microsoft Word has a well-documented compatibility issue between versions of the software; Google Docs doesn’t have an easy way to track changes; Pages for Mac doesn’t play nicely with PCs… the list goes on and on.
Luckily, it seems that collaborative writing has become the focus of some reasearch and development and a recent start-up.
Medium isn’t meant for editing – consider it a new way to blog – but it’s moving in a direction of organic community-based creation that is just waiting to be savored by tech-savy writing groups. Ev Williams, Medium’s midwife, was the man behind Blogger and the cheerleader that brought Twitter to the online world’s attention. What is he accomplishing with his latest project?
Medium (currently in closed Beta) invites users to create a theme and generate or curate content with invited collaborators.
Within your freshly written content, you and your collaborators can leave notes for each other, easily edit the text, and upon publication receive credit where credit is do. Imagine, with your writing friends, piecing together ideas and eradicating typos before publication.
It’s an entirely new way to think about blogging; the solipsistic nature of Twitter and personal sites is intrinsically absent from Medium. Critics say its just another platform – but maybe its ripples will lead to better collaborative writing software in the future.
Six or seven years ago my advice to aspiring authors of nonfiction books was to build an audience platform by blogging. An example of how critical blogging could be to securing a publishing contract can be found in the case of Ann Marie Ackermann, author of Death of an Assassin: The True Story of the German Murderer Who Died Defending Robert E. Lee. After an initial assessment of her manuscript, I had recommended she start a historical true-crime blog, and she did. In fact, the editor of the ideal book series at Kent State University Press became a fan ofRead more…