book blogging – making room for two

Ta dah. Loud fanfare. We have now written seven chapters, five of them in this sitting. That’s two days per chapter. Whew.

We’ve had to be pretty organised to achieve this level of productivity. We’ve not only done a lot of pre-preparation and made a good and flexible plan, but we have our working space organised too.

As some patter readers will already know, Barbara and I use the sit-and-write-together approach. We talk and talk and take turns typing. We compose the text together – sometimes speaking at once, sometimes talking over each other and sometimes speaking in turn. Our joint method of writing produces ‘one voice’ – this is neither Barbara nor I, but is the ‘voice’ of our books and workshops.

This is not the same as other forms of co-writing and is something that cannot be achieved with everyone. Most people who write together either write separate sections of the whole text, or one person writes a full draft with the other(s) doing the next version. We can’t do this. Our first draft is always written side by side, written together.


Barbara’s office is set up for our joint writing. Two chairs are positioned so that we can both see the big screen of the desktop computer. One of us sits on the side chair – this is so they can turn around and use the notebook to search out files in our shared Drop Box, or google something we’ve suddenly decided we need. If one of us in the side chair gets impatient they are close enough to reach over and take over the mouse and keyboard temporarily. There’s usually an ipad floating around too because that’s a bit quicker to use than the notebook.

We have the books we use most on the table so that we can refer to them, and we have some files printed out ready for examination. However, most of our pre-prepared work is not paper-based but online.

There’s lots of pens and paper for making notes of things we don’t want to forget to do.  And there’s various kinds of paper. Barbara favours yellow legal pads. I prefer post-its. We have plenty of both. And we have hand lotion. Well, you do notice your hands a lot when you’re working all day on a keyboard!

We’ve worked our little fingers quite a lot already, but there is still a way to go. We have four days left to write and we are getting more than a bit worn out, but there are two more chapters to go… Stay tuned.


About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
This entry was posted in book writing, side by side writing, space and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to book blogging – making room for two

  1. laurammonk says:

    Amazing collaborative writing! I love the sound of the sit-and-write-together approach. I’d like to think that I might get to try that someday with someone. Great to see the photo of your workspace too : ) Good luck with the remaining writing.


  2. hi Pat,
    How I loved seeing Barb’s sacred study again. a big hello from Claire. xx


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