Pair Writing: Fix First Draft Syndrome for Good

Everyone wants content creation to be free of surprises. But, think of the normal writing process. You and the writer talk a few times, the writer gathers notes, and heads back to their office to scrawl out the first draft.

So…what’s the problem with that?

The journey from first conversation to first draft can be rocky. Writers can get the wrong idea, or pick up incorrect details. They might get you onboard with a writing style that you don’t fully understand and can’t visualize. I’m not saying that the writer’s the problem here, I’m just saying that the process has a lot of wiggle room.

Fixing first draft syndrome

Plugging up these knowledge gaps is easier than you think. The answer lies in a process that programmers, developers, and maybe even hackers have used for years. It’s called pair coding.

Pair coding is based on the well-known fact that it’s more productive to have two people do the same job, than having those two people work on separate jobs. Make sense?  I know it really doesn’t, but the proof is in the pair coding. They’ve found that when programmers work in tandem and switch places frequently, with one coding while the other checks, suggests, and troubleshoots, they get code that’s higher quality, more creative, and more quickly produced.

Fortunately, programmers have blessed us writers with their ancient knowledge, allowing us to create pair writing. So, what does this process look like? Here’s a nice snapshot of it:

1.       You (or a trusted staff member) and your writer sit down in front of a computer tuned to your favorite word processor (you can also do this remotely through a video call and a Google doc).

2.       The writer asks you questions and starts writing based on your answers.

3.       You watch them write and say things like, “hey that’s good,” “not like that,” or “can we also mention…”

4.       Your writer will add the feedback and then it’s your turn to write and edit, while they think of more ideas and questions.

5.       Repeat the process until you have a solid first draft.

Why would I want to do my own writing?

This is a fair question; after all you are paying the writer so that you don’t have to write. Given this, why would you want to use pair writing? Consider some of these advantages:

·         Your writer will be able to figure exactly what you want by asking questions and seeing how you respond to the content.

·         You can immediately validate the content and let the writer know whether or not they’re understanding you correctly.

·         First drafts happen as quickly as you can schedule a pair writing session.

·         Your writer will have solid, accurate content on which to flex their creative muscles.

·         Like pair coding, pair writing creates content that’s more creative, higher quality, and more quickly produced.

Would you like to try this process for yourself?

Pair writing is one of my favorite tools to use with clients. Why not try it for yourself?

If you’re interested in pair writing, just contact me to schedule a consultation. If you’re a writer and you’re still not sure how it works, then send me an email. I’d be happy to help.