Creative Collaboration: Playing The Win-Win Game

By K.M. Tremills

As a storyteller, I always assumed I had to go it alone.

Whether I was writing, pitching, or taking meetings, I bought into the solo artist myth. Our do-it-yourself culture reinforces that to earn something — to be worthy of your success — you have to scale the mountain without help.

No oxygen. No sherpas. No one to throw you a rope when you’re hanging off a cliff.

But here’s the thing.

Collaborating with other folks is FUN. Oh my god, yes!

As I dangled from yet another creative precipice, and wondered how the heck I was going to get myself out of this latest terrifying scenario, I noticed that there were folks who knew how to scale rock-faces WAY better than I did. In fact, they wanted to show me HOW to scale the cliff. And they had the ropes, shoes, and carabiners ready to go.

What, exactly, am I referring to with this rock-climbing metaphor? Graphic design. Marketing. Event Planning. Copyediting. Sales savvy. Any skillset you’ve been led to believe you must master and do all on your own. I promise that there is another person who is not only far better at it that you, but who LIVES to do it!

This is what I call the blessing of the Win-Win scenario.

To paraphrase Gay Hendricks, from his game-changing book, The Big Leap, we all have a genius zone. Not our comfort zone. Or excellence zone. But our genius zone. That Einstein-level, time warp you enter when creating from your true passion and brilliance.

Time disappears. Creation flows. And magic happens.

Every person on this planet has a genius zone. And if I pretend that I am any good at graphic design (which I am not), I am robbing another person of expressing her genius! I discovered that if I accept that I suck at design and choose instead to empower a person who is brilliant with graphics, I step into the virtuous, time warp of creative collaboration.

Even more exciting, is how fast someone in her zone completes tasks I put off for weeks.

One of my genius zones is writing and storytelling. I have honed my craft for years and adore the process of telling stories. So when I choose to write, I am fast! If I focus, I can create a short story in one day. I finish that day feeling tired, but deeply satisfied.

When I struggle to complete a task that I am far from good at, it takes hours, weeks, or even months. Partly due to procrastination. And partly thanks to that old belief that I have to do everything alone. Plus, I am learning while doing, which slows every action down tenfold.

No more! What a beautiful world we make together by empowering each other to live in our genius zones. All while building our businesses faster and easier.

So how do you get started with collaborating creatively?

First, ask yourself what tasks you’ve been putting off. If these skills are not your expertise, make a list of people who either excel at them or might know someone who does.

Next, reach out to those people. Creative collaboration begins the moment you make a request. Even if asking for assistance feels scary or difficult, take the first step by believing you are worthy of partnership and support. Then make the request.

Finally, be clear about what you need and what you are willing to exchange. The currency of collaboration can be money, time, services, products, expertise, and more. Remember that you have as much to offer a creative partner as she has to offer you.

Once you discover the liberation and exhilaration of creative collaboration, I promise you will leap with joy off the Do It Alone cliff into the wide-open Win-Win skies!

K.M. Tremills is a lover of myth and story. She delves deep into the realm of the human spirit in two distinct series, The Great Lands and Fated, as well as her Fiction Vixen collections, Fabled and Three Short Tales of Red. When not creating fantastical worlds, she gives strategic counsel to creative entrepreneurs. Her latest offering is a course in Creative Breakthroughs: Smashing through Blocks to uncover the courage in your heart. Kate has contributed to Elle Canada, Moving Pictures, and ScreenTalk and is a member of the Writers Guild of Canada. Find out more at and connect with Kate at Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook.

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