Over the past few weeks, we’ve been exploring creativity styles. You’ll likely find that one (or possibly two) of these personalities fits you best. The point of taking the quiz and exploring your creative style isn’t to stuff yourself into a limiting box, but rather to understand why some strategies work better for you than others.

We’re moving on to the third of the five creative styles: The Collaborator.


Today, let’s talk about the Collaborator.



If your best ideas spring to mind when you bounce thoughts off others, you’re a … you guessed it … Collaborator! Collaborators know their own strengths and are excellent at tapping into the strengths of others. The Collaborator’s creative process is full of energy and empathy. They care deeply about sensory experience, warmth, play and the many details that make creating—and the ultimate creation—fun.


The Collaborator’s Strengths:

  • Your empathy comes through in your work and the way you work with others.
  • You know your own strengths and make the most of others’ strengths, too.
  • You’re excellent at breaking a project into parts and delegating each part to the just-right person for the job.


The Collaborator’s Weaknesses:

  • Strong emotions (yours, or those of others) can distract you.
  • Sometimes you are so focused on the details, it’s difficult to see the big picture.
  • When you have to work alone, you can feel bored, low energy, or discouraged.


Here are some interactive strategies that work well for Collaborators:

At the Start of a Project:

  • Brainstorm Collaboratively

Try using visual brainstorming tools, such as post-its on a large board, to see and share your ideas. New ideas will emerge as you see how others think about the challenge, question or possibility. In the end, you can take the ideas that work best for you and make the project your own, or you can work with others on a collaborative creation. In either case, the initial energy of working with others will fuel your process and keep you motivated.


  • Use Conversations or Interviews

Talk your ideas out with a friend, or use a formal interview process in which your partner asks you specific questions. By thinking aloud and answering questions, you’ll gain insight into where your idea connects with others, and where it might confuse them. You’ll be surprised at your initial insight that comes from spontaneous aha! moments as part of that conversation, and also zero in on the questions you still need to research and explore.


During Drafting:

  • Draft in a Public Place

Many writers work in coffee shops or libraries. If you need the energy and noise of other humans, don’t be afraid to take your computer or writing notebook to a public place. While you’re out and about, consider writing in a location that’s similar to the one you’re creating. Can you write a playground scene in a local park? Invite a friend along, and write together in that public place, and when you’re finished, share your scenes with one another.


  • Draft on Google Hangouts and Share Documents with Friends

Technology opens many new possibilities for Collaborators. Some Inklings love to connect with a friend or two via Google Hangouts. They open a video session, share their documents, and get to work. Even though they aren’t talking, they feel encouraged to know they’re writing with a friend. And once they’re done, they can share their scenes and get that immediate good feeling of having their work seen and celebrated by a friend.


While Revising:

  • Storyboard with a Friend

If you create a storyboard with post-its or index cards, you and a friend can look at the structure of your project together. You can move scenes around, identify problems, and problem-solve together. Consider inviting a bigger picture thinker, such as an Inventor, to help you with this kind of full-project revision.


  • Color-Code, Highlight, and Make it Visual

Try using highlighters to make it easy to see each time you’re using descriptive detail, or to sort out different speakers’ dialogue. Do you have too much detail, or too little? Does each speaker sound like him or herself? You can also use post-its to color code questions. Because you like details more than the big picture, you’ll probably feel a sense of relief if you allow yourself to focus on one piece of revision at a time. Try thinking first about the character arc. Then, consider the pacing of your story, or the beginnings and endings of each chapter. The more visual and playful you make your revision process, the happier you’ll be.


When You Feel Stuck:

  • Improvise or Tell a Story

Where might your story go from here? Improvise with a friend or tell them the story of how it might progress. Drafting can be lonely for Collaborators, and loneliness can cause you to get stuck. One way to make drafting more interactive is to tell the next scene out loud before writing it down. You can draft a possibility out loud, discuss what parts work and what parts don’t, tell it again, better, and then write it down. This process helps you stay in motion without feeling isolated.


  • Meet with a Critique Group

Most professional writers, illustrators and storytellers have a group of friends who they meet with to discuss their work. Start one with a group of your friends, and meet regularly. You’ll find this group motivates you to keep writing, and when you get stuck, they know how you work and understand the story you’re telling, so they’re excellent problem solving partners.


Try On Other Styles:

A Collaborator is similar to an Architect in that they both think in a detailed way, but the Architect is more structured and deadline focused. Try creating a collaborative checklist to share with a team of co-creators, and use due dates to keep yourself on track. If you’re working on a solo project, think about whether you can work in tandem with a friend. If you’re both working on the same stage of the project at the same time, you can check in about your progress, share strategies, and stay encouraged.


A Collaborator is similar to an Inventor because they both approach work in a playful way. However, Inventors tend to see work in a more big-picture way. Sometimes, this wider view is helpful for Collaborators. Try using a partner and playing a wild “What if…” game. Urge each other on, pushing the boundaries of what seems possible for your project. Once you’ve explored a larger vision, sort out which pieces seem most impactful and put them into a logical order with your detailed thinking skills.


A Collaborator thinks in nearly the opposite way from a Special Agent. For Collaborators, the process, and especially the way the process feels to the people involved, is more important than getting to the product as quickly as possible. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Special Agents are all about getting things done. Use your empathy to try on this more efficient hat. How might a Special Agent solve your current challenge? Is there a more direct approach you might take to push through an obstacle and find your momentum again?


So what do you think?

Are you a Collaborator? If you haven’t yet, we encourage you to take our creative styles quiz to learn more about the way you think. We’ll also send you a free Inklings Starter Kit with more strategies and ideas to help you play to your unique strengths.

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