Pictured: My writing partner and I at the 1997 Academy Awards.
Last week, I recommended taking on a writing partner to someone having trouble with story ideas. You can check that entry out here. I received a lot of comments and questions about the ins and outs of writing partnerships, so I'm devoting today's post entirely to that subject. I speak from experience here, I have had a writing partner for two years. I'd like to give you a completely honest look at how the two of us write, warts and all, and the pros and cons of being in a partnership.
My writing partner Sonny and I met while Pages at NBC. As a Page, I wrote a play that I was really happy with. I did a read-through with my friends that went really well, and I nearly got the show produced in New York. And then Garden State came out, and had roughly the same premise. Damn you, Braff! Months later, Sonny was unhappy at his job, called me at 3AM, and asked if I'd like to write a television pilot about our experiences as Pages with him. We embarked on a lot of hung-over Saturday morning writing sessions with no pressure, no deadlines, and frequent breaks for pizza and episodes of Undeclared on DVD.
That lack of stress changed pretty quickly once our script was enthusiastically received. The next thing we knew, we were flying out to Los Angeles a couple of times a month and signing with agents. Once agents entered the fray, we quit our (well) paying gigs in New York and made the trip to La La Land. Now, we weren't writing for fun, we were writing to survive. This put a lot more pressure on us as a writing partnership and even as friends. We worked through it fairly quickly, but this is why it is a good idea to discuss details and "rules" of your partnership early on, even if you're good pals and it's an awkward conversation. Sonny and I never did this, so when we had to bring up issues down the line, things got strained. Below are five major points I learned from the issues (formerly) in my partnership: