Eva and I are hard at work on a new book for Wiley Publishing, titled Coding JavaScript For Dummies. The book is scheduled to be released in spring 2015 and we have more than 25% of it written now.

In writing the book, we’re taking the same collaborative, two-heads-are-better-than-one approach that we apply to all of our projects. We meet at the coffee shop and sit across from each other on a table with just enough room for our laptops and our mugs (no distractions!). We open up the same chapter and start typing in the same document (enabled by Google Docs’ real-time collaboration).

The approach was inspired by the ideas of pair programming and collaborative teaching — both of which I’m a big fan of. But, rather than using the tag-team or driver/observer model, we’re both active participants at every moment. Usually what happens is that one of us writes, while the other corrects, clarifies, and revises.

This style of writing has made this project unlike any other book writing project I’ve ever been involved with. I’m finding it liberating. As the more experienced JavaScript coder and teacher, I’m free to focus on writing and making sure that everything that needs to be covered is covered. Eva makes sure that it’s easy to understand, organized, and properly formatted with proper screenshots, graphics, and illustrations. We can write the first draft of a chapter in one (very intense) day, whereas it took me as long as a week per chapter on previous projects.

When I mention our method to people, their biggest concern is that the result will lack a cohesive “voice”. I’m not finding this to be true, however. The voice that’s resulting isn’t exactly mine or Eva’s, but it’s certainly cohesive — much more so than if we each picked entire chapters to write (which is how I’ve worked with co-authors in the past).

I’m sure that we aren’t the inventors of this method, but I don’t think I know of any other co-authors who have written a book in this way. If you have experience, thoughts, or questions about real-time collaborative writing, please post them in the comments!

Coding JavaScript For Dummies and the WatzThis Authoring Method (WAM!)
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