Writing books is not the first career that I’ve had in my life. My original career was nursing. When I was in my undergraduate program at The Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, I doubt that I would have made it to graduation without my classmates. We studied together, practiced on each other (some of those moments are still cringe-worthy!) and provided the much needed moral support and humor to accomplish our goals. In short, we collaborated with each other to the benefit of every single student in my graduating class. I doubt that any of us were aware that we were engaged in the process of “collaboration”, but rather we did what came naturally to us as friends and classmates.
When I entered the profession as a new graduate in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, I was exposed to some great examples of collaboration. Unfortunately there were also the “sharks” out there who had no interest in helping others succeed. Now, you would think that nurses would be a nurturing group to work with, but unfortunately there is sometimes a tendency among seasoned veteran nurses to “eat their young”. I have not worked in a hospital setting now for years so I truly hope that it is better now, but in the 1990’s it could often be a cruel world for a young idealistic nurse. The bottom line regarding collaboration in a health care setting is that not only does the healthcare team benefit from it, so does the patient. Nurse managers and hospital administrators should make it a priority to foster this atmosphere in all units.
Fast forward to my “second career” as a teacher. I completed a Masters Degree in Elementary Education and taught school for five years. During those years I was fortunate enough to have some amazing people to work with and share in collaboration daily. But even in a school setting there will be those teachers who want to keep to themselves and “work alone”. To me, if something works well with my class I want to shout it from the rooftops and share with everyone. Just as in the hospital setting, when teachers collaborate with each other it benefits the students which in turn benefits the entire community. I never did understand the teachers who had no interest in collaborating, but they were truly a detriment to the school.
My new career as an author is completely uncharted territory for me! It has been exciting and rewarding, but at the same time absolutely terrifying! There is so much to learn, especially as an Indie author in the huge world of publishing. It has come flooding back to me in this venture exactly how valuable collaboration can be. There is one particular Facebook group Clean Indie Reads that has the most supportive authors I’ve found. Any member can post a question about any aspect of writing, publishing, or marketing and receive numerous helpful responses. Members of the group are generous with their time and are willing to share what has worked (or totally flopped!) for them in an effort to assist new authors achieve their own success. In an ideal world everyone would be collaborative with colleagues, and workplaces (physical or virtual) would be veritable Petri dishes of creativity.
As an author I have discovered that even readers can be collaborators in the process of creating the best story possible. Each new set of eyes on my books offers a new perspective on the story that I might not have previously recognized while writing. Reviewers that post their opinions on my novels are essentially collaborating with me in my quest to write books that connect with people. As long as reviews are constructive, they don’t need to be positive in nature.
So whatever job you find yourself doing right now, there is certainly an opportunity out there to collaborate with the people around you. Maybe you can be the person who starts a new trend at your job to inspire, support, encourage and assist each other in becoming the best team in the business! Please go for it!