by Lauren Layne & Anthony LeDonne

We’re Lauren Layne and Anthony LeDonne, co-authors of the holiday romantic comedy Emergency Contact. Fun fact, we’re also … married! A status we managed to maintain, even as we wrote our first book together 😉

A little about our background: as individuals, we’re no strangers to writing. Lauren, as a full-time author with forty books, and Anthony as a comedy writer. And as high school sweethearts, we’ve been each other’s biggest cheerleaders when it comes to creative endeavors for a long time.

So when we decided to co-write a screenplay and a novel together, we naively thought, how hard can it be?


Turns out that writing with someone is a completely different beast than going it alone. It’s a vibrant, complex process with its own rewards and challenges. Here are five things we’ll definitely be keeping in mind for next time.

1. Check Vulnerability at the Door

This was probably the biggest hurdle to overcome. It’s vulnerable enough to put words on a blank page when you’re the only one who can read them. But knowing that someone else is going to bear witness to your ugly, rambling first draft attempts? It’s a special kind of exposed. It was hard for both of us not to feel like the words that we were putting on the page were infinitely worse than what the other person was bringing to the table. When we discovered that we were both feeling the same way, we knew a mindset shift was in order. We reminded each other every day, sometimes every minute: “It’s a first draft. We’ll fix it later.”

2. Find the Right App/Process

We were surprised that this one was so much of a struggle for us, because we’ve both always preached this idea of “just write!” and “the best writing tool is the one you already have.”

But we learned the hard way that sometimes having the right tool really does matter. Sitting down to write is enough of a struggle as it is without hating the app you’re writing in. And unfortunately, for all the great writing apps on the market right now, very few were crafted with co-authors in mind, especially co-authors who love minimalist writing environments (we both loathe janky, bloated Microsoft Word). After many false starts with multiple programs, we finally settled on a bootstrap solution of Ulysses + Dropbox. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a solution that finally allowed both of us to settle into the words in a way that we couldn’t with Google Docs, Word Living Writer, etc. So spend some time to discuss how you both prefer to write, and find an app/process that removes any sort of friction.

3. Create Micro-Goals

This tip applies to solo writers as well: break your wordcount goals down as tiny as possible. Knowing you have to write 70,000 can feel like you’re pushing a boulder up a mountain. Knowing you have to write 2,000 today feels like you’re pushing that same bolder up a steep hill. But telling yourself “just write 100 words?” that’s more like tossing a tiny pebble.

When it comes to co-writing it’s crucial to celebrate that third voice.

We stole an idea from author Sarah Maclean, and got ourselves some grid paper and boxed out 700 squares. Every time we wrote just 100 words, we got to scribble in a square. It was bizarrely satisfying?! And best of all, on days where the words weren’t flowing, it was still relatively easy to say, “Okay, just do one more square…”

4. Give the Other Person a Break

With deadline right around the corner, there were some days where Lauren just really didn’t feel like writing; like really really. And Anthony felt the same on other days. Right from the start, we gave each other permission to take days off without feeling guilty, or feeling like the other person would resent us. On days when Lauren needed a break, Anthony would push to do “a few more squares” (see #3), and Lauren would do the same on Anthony’s days off. It was so important to trust that we were each pulling our weight without feeling like we had to be writing the exact same amount of words at the exact same time.

5. Embrace the Third Voice

As individual writers, we both know the incredible power of author voice. Lauren’s writing voice is strong and distinct, Anthony’s equally so. We figured that our novel would end up having a little of her writing voice, alternating with a little of his voice. What we didn’t see coming? That our voices together would create something entirely new; a third voice. Our voice. Not a single sentence in the manuscript wasn’t touch by both of us, and the result was a book that was neither Lauren nor Anthony’s, but its own, unique style. When it comes to co-writing it’s crucial to celebrate that third voice, rather than obsess that it sounds different than your solo writing!

We keep getting asked if we’d write together again, and our answer is immediate and unequivocal: absolutely.

The process was easier and more fun than either of us anticipated. But you can bet we’ll be revisiting these tips ourselves before our next project!


Featured in Oprah Magazine and PopSugar, Lauren Layne books have sold millions of copies worldwide. Snappy banter, sexual tension, and a fairy-tale happy ending are a hallmark of the Lauren Layne brand. Library Journal has described Lauren’s work as “exceptional,” and the books have been described by USA TODAY as “romantic comedy at its finest.”

Anthony LeDonne is a stand-up comedian. He’s been featured on Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Showtime. He lives in New York City with his high school sweetheart and his overweight Pomeranian.