We’re often asked what it’s like to write books together. One of the most amazing aspects of the writing process, for us, is how our two very different voices come together to create "our" voice.

Typically, we begin by having many conversations exploring a particular idea. Eventually I go off and write up a first draft. I’m very left brained, very logical and linear, and tend to write like a college professor. The ideas may be great, but they often come out sounding like a duck penned them.

Then it's Joe's turn to read the piece. Joe is more right brained; he doesn’t so much think about the meaning behind the words as feel it, feels for the heart or the essence of what we're trying to convey, then allows the right words to come up to express those feelings. His changes often "soften" the presentation, making things just flow more easily. Then we read the piece together, edit, and read it again, usually many times over a period of weeks or months (really!), making small adjustments to the wording each time, learning a bit more about the idea by trying it ourselves (again!) and sharing it with others who try it too, until we feel the piece expresses exactly what we'd like it to, and in a way that flows.

Here’s a little sample of wording changes that came from Joe. This is a piece that will be in our new chapter "Sex and the Practice of Being Present." This section explores how to practice presence with your lover while giving (or receiving!) a sensual massage. Notice how he suggested changing the phrase "create a romantic mood" to the much lovelier "add a little romance". Even more importantly, he noted that we were getting to the massage too quickly, and suggested the couple "Take a moment to connect" before beginning.


This next one is another example of how my original draft morphed into the final piece that will appear in the book. Here is what we started with:

Heart Grow Fonder original

The lovely new title and the idea of moving from the "bitter" side of bittersweet and towards the "sweet" side both came through Joe:

heartgrowfonderfinal USE

To us, our styles feel like they were meant to go together. It's certainly clear that neither of us could write these books alone. Mine would come out sounding like sleep-inducing technical manuals, and Joe’s would end up being a few sweet words scribbled on some scraps of paper that would float away on the wind when he went off to go for a swim.

Mali Apple & Joe DunnThank you for being here! ~Mali & Joe, authors of The Soulmate Experience52 Prescriptions for Happiness, and the upcoming book The Soulmate Lover, and creators of Mantras for Making Love.


2 Replies to “How We Write Together: Two Voices Become One”

  1. Geaniemarie, we’ve talked about your note a couple of times because we have a similar experience; it’s really Joe’s sense of humor that sets the tone for humor on our books. Although recently, I’ve sometimes come up with something funny that sounds just like him—like I’m channeling him! Thanks for reading! ♥ Mali

  2. This is so interesting to me because my husband and I are both writers and have a similar process. When I write something, I have him proof it and make any suggestions. He always sees something I’ve missed and adds a bit of humor – his forte. I do the same for him but fail at funny. While we don’t actually collaborate on writing, I think that would be tons of fun. You and your Joe are very lucky to see eye to eye and have so much in common.

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