Collaborations … do they work?

Collaborating happens a lot with independent creatives. Are they always helpful?

This weekend some really good (creative) friends were here at HQ chopping it up for hours (as per usual) and whilst they refused my offer to turn the mics on halfway through (standard Serena) our convo still managed to provide me with some content. 

Do collaborations work? Can they be a little knee-jerk?

I’ve wound-down past collaborations because they haven’t always worked OR only worked for a period of time. This is what got in the way:

  1. Competing agendas. You may begin with the same intentions but these could change with time. Best to communicate. But if you’re busy churning out content (as I was) then there’s very little time to fit this in. It is a must;

  2. Everyone develops and grows - apart. Whilst a collaboration brings people together, it doesn’t make one person and one mind. So it should be fully expected that you can outgrow each other, but more specifically, you may not grow as a collab;

  3. A lack of acknowledgement. Acknowledging one another’s time and commitment. If this is off then forget about it. Knowing what you’re bringing to the table and being clear about it is paramount. You may be ‘thinking’ differently to what the other is ‘seeing’. 

Like all relationships, creative collabs may only be for a season. But it’s disappointing when things end on a sour note. In the distant past I haven’t communicated my reservations enough in advance of things turning sour. The cause of this is a symptom we all suffer from frequently as independent creatives and that is ... exhaustion. 

So exhausted by everything I was putting in and then some ... it felt easier to just press the eject button especially when attempts to redefine my own creative trajectory were being ignored. 

The thing is though... it’s worse when the other party turns nasty. Utterly clueless about where you’re coming from, they can’t see past their nose.  This I advise is where you draw the line. Do not engage. Make your peace and remove them/yourself and keep it moving. 

Collaboration with other creatives works well when a term of time is established with key responsibilities/agreements drawn up. The alternative is just messiness and not the type of creative mess you can work with. 

I’m not worried about burning bridges when those past connects were nothing more than a short tunnel I had to navigate out of, only to find I was still on the same damn side. 

As independent creatives, perhaps we are quick to want to join forces with someone who possesses something we think we lack. I’d challenge us to explore our capabilities before linking creatively with someone else.