The Collaboration Conversation


Every Friday I write the 20 Minute Club Minutes–because using a timer for what I call the 20 Minute Technique can keep your creative momentum going in your busy, time-crunched life–20 minutes at a pop.

Please join in and share your 20 Minute Experiences in the Comments–good/bad, it’s all fair game, because sharing your experiences about the process is a great way to figure things out and increase your creativity.


My 20 Minute Club experiences this week have been all about collaboration.

I’m collaborating on a series of pieces with a fantastically talented close friend, and it’s so fulfilling and exciting.

We began our collaboration with a broad….direction, I guess, and a love for the same kind of materials.

And now we’re slowly developing that direction as we make our initial work. One of us starts something and then we hand it off to the other.

She gave me her latest “start” almost 2 weeks ago.

I brought it home and then walked by it, stared at it, rearranged it, remembered it, and pondered for about 10 days until I suddenly got what I call my flash–this is when I’m thinking about a piece and an image suddenly pops into my head in a particular way that tells me–start here.

(All of the above was invisible work, by the way. To an outsider, it looked like a pile of fabric was awkwardly sitting on top of my printer while I ignored it.)

Once I got my flash, I had something to do. I spent the weekend immersed in a conversation with our project and can’t wait to pass it back to her.

The Conversation

What I love about collaborating is that it’s an even richer conversation than when you listen and respond to your own work by yourself.

As I’m creating, I’m not only responding to the work in front of me, but I’m conversing with my friend in my head as I work, with what I’m adding to what she gave me, as well as with our shared ideas about our project–our vision, if you will, even though that’s pretty broad at this point.

The cooperating feels fantastic. The direction that the work takes when it comes from 2 people instead of just yourself, and the feeling of connection while making art–so often a solitary pursuit–gives the aesthetic experience itself such depth.

But working with someone else also gives you another fantastic personal benefit–it helps you build and maintain that all-important creative momentum because it’s a powerful way to have support and accountability built into the creative experience.

Because it’s hard to always have to come up with that kind of energy on your own.

And in order to live your life as an artist these days, when you’re probably making your living doing something else, it’s really helpful to find different ways to have a supported creative experience.

(That’s what the Creative Breakthroughs Collage Tele-classes are all about–SUPPORT!!)

And when you find the right person to work with, it all falls into place.

Neither of us needs to have a lot of control (well, over this particular project :-) ), both of us care about intention and details, and we’re both approaching the process with curiosity rather than expectations.

And maybe my favorite part is that even though we think really differently and make things differently, we both trust and respect the other person’s aesthetic AND we want to build on what the other one does, rather than fight it.

I haven’t had this much art fun in a long time.

Is there someone you could collaborate with?


Appreciating yourself is an important part of the 20 Minute Club because it helps you keep your creative momentum going.

Carving out the time to create is important of course, but it’s not enough. Getting (and eventually staying) on your own side is a critical factor for helping you take bigger risks with your work, get yourself out of a creative rut, or just enjoy the process more.

Taking the time to remember to appreciate yourself and all your efforts (big or small, creative or not) is a powerful way to make this happen.


Here are my five self-appreciations for this week:

1. I appreciate everything I brought to my collaboration project as I added to it and grew it this last weekend.

2. I appreciate how I much more awareness I’m bringing to certain defeatist thinking patterns and trying to both accept them as they are, and not indulge them at the same time.

3. I appreciate how much I’m learning about the difference between acceptance and succumbing.

4. I appreciate how simply continuing to work on a big project is providing me answers when I feel like I don’t know what to do next.

5.  I appreciate my lifelong desire to grow and let go and be free and how that desire helps me face hard things and move forward.

Your Turn

How about you? How was your creative week? Do you ever collaborate with friends on art or craft work? Would you like to…or maybe not? Please share your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

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  1. R.M. Koske says:

    Just finished up my Friday night 20 minute weekend celebration. *grin*

    Another one of those times where I made almost zero visible progress, but I think this time what I did was pretty important to the projects and my creativity anyway. In 20 minutes, I tried on a sweater-in-progress (going well, yay), basted down some lace for a project that was going to be a belt but is now uncertain, and tied knots in existing stitching on the origami hat that will probably become my creative costume.

    The progress is microscopic. But it felt good and important, I think because I spent most of the time on the belt and hat. They’re strong statements of my creative voice, very much me and my style. Even more important, they’re completely pointless statements of my voice. The belt may or may not work out as a belt, but I’m going to have to finish it before I’ll know. And I don’t wear belts much. But I’m finishing it anyway because I need to make this thing. And the hat! Oh, the hat is going to be fantastic and I love the idea, but it isn’t part of a complete costume (costumes aren’t pointless to me – I go places where I can show them off at least a few times a year) and I doubt I’d ever have the nerve to wear this outrageous thing on the street. It quite possibly will become a pretty thing that sits on a shelf. Which is slightly tragic, and I try to avoid acquiring things like that, but again, I’m compelled. Gotta make it.

    Acknowledging that compulsion, giving value to the things I’m making purely for the expression of my voice, that was what I did today during my 20 minutes, and it was huge. Even if all I did was tie a few knots. Yowza.

  2. Sarah says:

    Fantastic Ruth Marie! I love feeling compelled like that because it’s all about your creativity being fired up! And I’m dying to see this origami hat!! :-)

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