Volley is a “tool” that Reshan Richards and I use to write collaboratively.

It’s very, very simple, and perhaps because of that, it’s incredibly useful to our partnership.

If we have to write something that we’re planning to ship together — whether it’s a program description, an email to a potential client or customer, a post for our website, or a short article — one of us emails a quick idea to the other and writes “SERVE + a title” in the subject line.

When the other person opens the email, he sets a timer for 5 minutes and tries to improve the contents. When the timer goes off, he emails the new version to the other person and writes “VOLLEY + the version number + the title.”

This goes on and on until one of us feels that we can no longer improve the text. At this point, we respond by saying something like, “I think this is finished” or “game over.” And then we move the text into its final state, which sometimes requires additional, focused editing or layout time from one of us, before shipping it.

Obviously, we can’t produce long texts this way because they would take more than five minutes to read, digest, and improve. But Volley is the simple and easy process that we’ve used to write dozens of short things together over the years. You can always find five minutes.

[If you’re still reading, and if you’re interested in the meta-game, I’m planning to serve the above post to Reshan as a variation on the Volley technique. He’ll then convert it into an artifact for our website’s Toolkit page. Stay tuned.]

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