How To Survive a Fight With Your Collaborator

Okay, so. This may seem like an awkward thing to say, but you don’t have to like your writing partner all the dang time. In fact, I think it’s impossible to. You’re making art together, which is undoubtedly complicated and will lead you both to feel vulnerable. Now, don’t get me wrong – if you’re fighting all the time, then call it quits, because for the most part, creating a musical should be mad fun times. However, experiencing an occasional burst of frustration with your collaborator? Totally normal.

I have exceptional, deep love and respect for all of my collaborators. I truly would be nowhere without them, but we too are not exempt from having our moments. No one is super-human in this game, y’all. Here are a few tips that should help get you out of the mud if either or both of you are feeling a wee bit feisty with the other.

1. Take Space. I’m not suggesting you go completely radio silent (especially if there’s a deadline involved), but I do think taking a few days without communicating could help clear your head and assist you in whatever creative conundrum the two of you have encountered. Whether you’re disagreeing over song form or scene length, simply take some time to consider the severity of the disagreement – is it really that serious or can you compromise? Usually, it’s the latter, and typically a few days apart will help you reach that conclusion. So politely back off for a bit, and then re-approach with an improved and more productive attitude.

2. Compromise. Yes, I’m piggy-backing off of the previous bullet, but I thought elaborating was crucial here. Neither one of you can be too headstrong in this arrangement. If you both aren’t willing to bend a little bit, you will go nowhere. You might as well just go solo, which in my opinion can sometimes be a cop out. Very few people can go it alone, and even those individuals who manage to do it well, I’m sorry – it still seems a little lonely all up in that head by yourself. So compromise. If she wants X here, then you get Y there. Simple pimple. Usually the work comes out better when you bend.

3. Breathe and Let Go. My dad is the king of this, and I have to say, he’s a pretty successful dude because of it. Do not always rise to the occasion. If you can get over a snarky comment or an unreturned text, get over it. Don’t let it fester and bleed into your collaborative relationship. If it’s something that in a day, you will not give two cents about, then don’t bother to bring it up to your collaborator in the heat of the moment. Bite your tongue, take a breath, and remember that sweating the small stuff and picking baby fights are always killers.

4. Don’t Compete. Ideally, you both have the same goal: to make a brilliant musical that people will love. So competing with each other, whether it’s who has more Instagram followers or more Broadway connections – well, it’s silly. Like why do that? You’re a team. You should look at the other person’s strides in the industry as something that can, quite frankly, benefit you as well, so applaud your partner as opposed to attempting to one-up him or her.

5. Check In. If all else fails – if you won’t get over whatever issue you’re grappling with and resentment seems to be building – then you must have a chat. If you let things go too long, then it will ultimately sour the relationship and potentially lead to an unfixable situation. Checking in may seem scary, but usually your collaboration will emerge even stronger because of a real talk.

Okay, so there you have it! Five tips to assist you and your partner through any rough patches you may encounter. The goal is a badass musical, so don’t let little squabbles get in the way. You’re ripping yourselves off if you do.

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