The trope of the lone creator or individual ‘genius’ is a dominant one in current conceptions of artistic practice and creativity. However, in this paper we suggest that writing and art, and creative practice more generally, might be reimagined in terms of a collaborative sociability; and that this is a way of recognising art’s almost endless, protean permeability. The idea of collaborative sociability might also be a way of understanding how artists ‘labour together’ even when they may not be aware that they are doing so. Just as some forms of influence and intertextuality constitute a form of collaboration, so all texts may in a broad sense be intertextual and collaborative when understood in the context of the zeitgeist in which they are produced—even works by authors and artists who are largely understood to work outside of explicit collaborative frameworks. But if collaboration may be what many writers and artists are doing much of the time, collaboration remains potentially fraught and, to a significant extent, mysterious in its various expressions and outcomes. It demands flexibility and a willing embrace of its inherent unpredictability.