Writing can be a difficult process—hence the existence of this blog. Even more challenging, at times, is writing in groups—sharing the creation of a paper or assignment with others.
In a perfect world, every single person in a collaborative writing assignment would share equal responsibility in the writing process. Everyone would do the same amount of research and write the same number of pages. But let's face it: this isn't a perfect world.
George Mason University's Online Writing Guide for Students (part of their New Century University program) has a nice section on Collaborative Writing. It offers definitions of various roles, some helpful tips, and even ethical points to keep in mind. I strongly recommend checking out this website. In addition, I've included a few suggestions of my own below:
1) Compromise. You'll have to. If there are three people working on a paper, that means there are three different personalities, schedules, ideas, etc. In a collaborative assignment, everyone is equal. Your peers' suggestions carry as much weight as your own.
2) Be firm. If your peers aren't doing their share of the work, discuss it with them. They may have reasons other than sheer laziness, though if that is the case, then discuss the issue with your other peers, or your instructor.
3) Divide the work as evenly as possible. Are you usually in charge? In a collaborative environment, you'll have to relinquish some control. Are you used to doing what you're told? In collaborative writing, you'll have to take your own initiative.
4) Listen. This goes right along with compromising, but I feel its worth reinforcing. Listen to your peers.
5) Don't stress out. Really. Collaborative writing is highly rewarding, and is a great skill (almost a requirement) when entering the workforce, or extending your education. That doesn't mean it's a bummer, though. It's a great way to get to know people, and to evaluate your own writing process.
The thing to remember is, collaborative writing is worth it. It really is. Two heads are better than one, as the saying goes. When you work closely with others, you gain new experience and new points of view—this is why so many instructors utilize group work in their classrooms. Collaborative writing is a great opportunity to learn from your peers, and for your peers to learn from you.