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English pop singer Elton John (left) with his long-term songwriting partner, American lyricist Bernie Taupin, circa 1975.

Co.Create

Collaboration Conundrum? Submit Your Question To Our Creative Advice Expert

Are you part of a creative team, or just need some advice on work dynamics? Joshua Wolf Shenk, author of Powers of Two is on hand to answer your creative collaboration questions.

We’ve come a long way since “Dear Abbey.” If you’re a 70-year-old man musing on whether to have a fling with your lesbian cousin, you can write The Stranger’s Dan Savage. If you’re a 26-year-old writer blocked so badly you want to jump out a window, you turn to Dear Sugar at The Rumpus. If your wife objects to the mattress in your sister’s guest-room, you can send a query to Slate’s Dear Prudence.

But what about the vexations, curiosities, and conundrums that occupy most of your waking hours--those relationships having to do with your creative work? How do you handle a piece of “feedback” from your partner that really felt like a smear? How do you make your creative presence felt in a situation where, as George Costanza put it, you “have no hand at all?" (Or maybe the question is: “How do I get the hand?") If you’re isolated, how do you find someone to make sparks with? If you’re over-exposed, how do you carve out enough solo time?

Fast Company is pleased to announce an advice column on creative relationships, with questions from creatives in media, advertising, business, and technology. The questions will be fielded by Joshua Wolf Shenk, the author of Powers of Two: Seeking the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs.

Josh has spent five years studying the most eminent creative partnerships, from John Lennon and Paul McCartney to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak to Marie and Pierre Curie, comparing the common points of these stories with the latest in science and psychology.

You don’t need to be in a traditional “collaboration” to ask for feedback. Josh has also studied partnerships where one member is behind-the-scenes; where one member is clearly the boss; and even cases where two people influence each other without sharing a common body of work.

We’re seeking questions for the debut of the column, to run the week of August 4. We’re glad to protect your anonymity, and will let you vet anything we publish from you. But please do tell us as much as you possibly can about your situation. The more we know about the people involved, the kind of work you do, the stakes at hand, and so on, the better we can craft an answer helps you and other readers.

If you'd like to submit a question, feel free to include it in the comments below or email it to tiezzi@fastcompany.com. Those who submit the best questions will receive a free copy of Powers of Two, which includes a lifetime's worth of insight on the dynamics of innovation and creative collaboration.

[Photo by Terry O'Neill, Hulton Archive, Getty Images]

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3 Comments

  • I always wondered why car communicate with lights as to turn, stop? Some easy other light systems should be able to also say (beyond turning and stop,) orI will change file, you are too close... with LED or other displays - even advertising or other odd messages... the technology exist so it only is a behavior pattern plus marketing... or something else that could make cars communicate better.