Showcasing a new story structure for new times

This month at Collab Writers there was magic in the air, as we hung on every word of the Joseph Campbell of our times – storyteller and creative writing teacher, Kim Hudson as she talked us through a new model of storytelling, The Virgin’s Promise.

Kim gave us her scoop on a story structure that is new and fresh and has come into its own in the pandemic where we are eager to tell stories that matter. The Virgin’s Promise is a wonderfully meaningful story structure that is the perfect framework on which to build such stories. There are 13 beats suitable to tell stories of personal growth, creative, spiritual and sexual awakening, to name a few .

Kim Hudson’s inspirational hour with Collab Writers

Kim calls these stories ‘feminine stories’ and don’t let that put anyone off, who doesn’t identify themselves as feminine. The story structure works just as well to tell masculine stories. Regardless of sex, we all have yin and yang in us and we all have what we have come to recognise as masculine and feminine energy. The thing is, we don’t always embrace both sides. Many of the Hollywood movies we watch focus more on external achievement, with screenwriters having been schooled in the art of telling the hero’s journey of going out into the world and achieving something, coming back home and shouting about success to the outside world. We often see this play out in stories that follow the 12 beat structure of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.

Chritopher Vogler, who wrote ‘The Memo’ that changed storytelling in Hollywood, has written The Foreword to Kim’s book, and says the following:

"What I found in these pages was an eye-opening retelling of the universal human story from the feminine perspective, with quite different language and thinking than I had considered."

The Virgin story is about knowing one’s own dream and bringing this to life within a world that often doesn’t support that and it’s through that inner challenge that the growth occurs and the Virgin can become who she was truly meant to be. Sound familiar? The 13 beats of Kim Hudson’s ‘Virgin’s Archetypal Journey’ from Kim’s book, The Virgin’s Promise are:

” 1. Dependent World – 2. Price of Conformity – 3. Opportunity to Shine – 4. Dresses The Part – 5. Secret World – 6. No Longer Fits her World – 7.Caught Shining – 8. Gives Up What Kept Her Stuck – 9. Kingdom in Chaos – 10. Wanders in The Wilderness – 11. Choose Her Light – 12. Re-ordering (Rescue) – 13. The Kingdom is Brighter.”

Movies that follow The Virgin’s Promise

To give us context, Kim talked us through stories of Personal Growth that we know and love that once upon a time we might have gone out to the cinema to see (yes, remember those wonderful days!), like Joker, Roman Holiday, Jo Jo Rabbit, Billy Elliot, The Wife and Her.

Stories of our Time

In the pandemic, outer and inner worlds have become more polarised and we’ve seen heros and anti-heros playing out on the world stage. I won’t mention any anti-heros by name but there have been plenty of examples in 2020. Like in the novels we write and read and movies we write and see, these heros often refuse to admit defeat and cling on to the bitter end, whether or not they have the support of the community or the moral upper ground.

They often share a common trait, they are right and it’s their view of the world that they will defend to the bitter end, regardless.

Is it time to tell new stories?

Since our session with Kim, there has been a seismic shift on the world stage. I’ve been asking myself “are we done with the hero’s journey?” Is it time for a new story structure? One that isn’t focussed on the strongest or smartest, or on achievements in the outer world, but rather upon the inner world and the journey we experience within, through personal growth and change to become who we came here to be, whether society approves or not.

It’s true that for many of us, lockdown has given us the opportunity to get know ourselves much better. As we can’t go out, we have gone within. We’ve had to get up close and personal with our lives, relationships, feelings, our work, or lack thereof and really ask ourselves some home truths. Home truths that reveal our inner make up, who we really are, and why we are here, especially at this time.

Need some help to discover your story of personal growth?

The beauty of Kim’s Virgin story structure is that the 13 beats don’t have to roll in any particular order. They can be mixed up and appear in your story in any order which is why stories that follow this structure tend to be intense, memorable and unique.

Let’s together disrupt the old way of storytelling and embrace a deeper, more meaningful way to tell our stories where no two are the same. Kim’s teachings can help you do this with grace and you never know, you might just enjoy it. After all, in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

I truly believe that the future belongs to those who dare to be different, not to those who follow the crowd.

If you want to treat yourself to some new notebooks to write your stories in. Or, if you are looking for unique gifts for Christmas, check out our Collab Writers limited edition notebooks, designed by London print designer, Caroline Lowe. As 2020 has been hard on creatives, here is an opportunity to support a talented artist this Christmas!

Two Collab Writers Original Notebooks

Designed and made by print designer Caroline Lowe. This pair of show-stopping notebooks are just-the-thing to give a home to your creative thoughts. A snip at £25 a pair including postage in Europe. If you are outside Europe, please do email us for a postage quote.


Your Creative Ikigai

Many many moons ago, I lived in Japan. The Japanese live life well. Despite the technological advances, they appreciate the simple things in life.

A phrase often heard from kindergarten kids to 90 year olds is ikigai.‘ Before I fully understood the translation of the word, which as luck would have it has become a borrowed word in the English language, I got it. I got it, because the ever so helpful body language told me all I needed to know.

Ikigai has the guaranteed side effect of smiling, a warm fuzzy feeling and heartfelt happiness

The dictionary or hand held electronic translation (yep that used to be a thing kids) wasn’t necessary because the obligatory accompaniment to ‘ikigai’ was a smile, a warm glow or a hand placed over the heart that often triggered a smile.

The body language, was usually accompanied by some kind of action, be it flower arranging, a tea ceremony, tending the garden, growing veg, keeping chickens, writing, painting, playing tennis, swimming, walking, doing yoga, practising martial arts. An endless list….. Ikigai, is an activity or feeling that one enjoys in the moment when doing something one loves.

A love affair with the living of life itself that is true, honest and full of delight.

Ikigai is something money simply can’t buy, it’s without class, without divide, open to all to enjoy, equally.

There isn’t one word in the English language that can sum it up, it is a combination of so much of what we treasure in life. In essence, it’s the reason we get up in the morning, our passion, our ‘go to’ thing in life, that’s beyond a quick fix of Netflix or Amazon Prime. I say that as someone who regularly finds solace in movies and TV series, especially in lockdown days. Deep down, I know that my ikigai is an inner creativity and encouraging others to create.

Creative Carpe Diem

So, look back on your today and if there was joy, look at where that joy was. If it was when you sat down and came to the page or your laptop to write, shooting that scene on the underground with masks, a morning walk, run or playing football. Whatever it was, make it a regular thing if you can. It’s not a to do list or a must have number of words, it’s a desire, a passion, a match that thing or thing(s) that lights your inner fire. So, seize the day and do more of what brings you ikiagi, today, tomorrow and whenever you feel you need a reason to live. If you didn’t experience that today, think about what brings you joy and add it into any time left today and definitely your tomorrows.

Arigato gozaimashita Japan……….

The Dawn of The Age of Collaboration

creative collaborationThank you 2020 for bringing many of us together, the year ‘collaboration’ became ‘cool’.

Let’s face it, without collaboration, we wouldn’t have got as much done. If you are enjoying your new found ‘collaboration’ you will love what we do at Collab Writers. The clue is in our name, we are all about ‘collaboration’ of writers and other creatives.

Goodbye ‘me, myself and I’ culture

There’s no denying that part of our old society is crumbling together with the ‘me me me’ culture. In case you’ve forgotten it already, this was the culture where people cared quite a lot about themselves, how rich they were, and what they could achieve in life. Competition was the name of the game. Keeping up with the Jones’s was more important than giving the Jones’s a helping hand.

Enter 2020, and we have got to know our neighbours, and have helped in the community. We are becoming more ‘us’ than ‘I’, also marking the dawn of The Great Collaboration.

“The old way of life has been paused by a power greater than us and the ‘me, me, me’ culture crystallised in history to make way for The Age of Collaboration.”

If we stop and think, even the best of us were a bit ‘me, me ‘me’ focused until 2020 arrived. As we emerge like butterflies from lockdown, we are transformed, thinking about how we can help others, opening us up to finding ways of working with others.

Hello Collaboration – working together as one

Collab Writers was born (pre-pandemic) to connect people, to help them get to know one another and build up relationships of trust. The collaborative creative community was born to encourage creatives to collaborate through telling stories together. We are here to connect, support and inspire you to join forces to create passion projects.

As distance disappears, and time differences become less important, we are paying less attention to individual difference and believing more in commonalities. The time to collaborate is NOW. When Collab Writers was born, 18 months ago ‘collaboration’ was a word we didn’t hear that often. It is now on every forward thinking company’s radar.

So how does collaboration happen at Collab Writers?

We bring people together. We identify creative synergies and make creative collaborations happen. How? We just do. There is no clever algorithm. We know creative talent when we see it, old hands or emerging creatives, all are welcome. Our collaborative crystal ball gives us the vision of what we feel will work collaboratively. Then we connect people and collaborations just happen. It’s why we were created, and we truly believe it’s the reason we are here.

On top of the many ongoing collaborations that have been born and come to life through Collab Writers, our members have also collaborated with big players, the Raindance Film Festival, The Showface Festival, and Manga Big Bang to name a few. Our Small Ads, Big Roles Feature on our newsletter is open to all members as a platform to seek collaborators and shout from the rooftops about collaborations and creative projects.

Whatever happens in the future, one thing’s for sure, it’s Goodbye the ‘Me me me’ culture, and it’s Hello to the ‘let’s work together, as one’ culture.

If you want to know what all of the buzz is about, join us at Collab Writers in September on ZOOM with a special creative guest. We are also delighted that we have more new and exciting international collaborations stirring in the Collab pot, to be announced soon.

Ask a question about Collab Writers

Create what matters to you

BALI, INDONESIA - DECEMBER 5, 2017: Balinese man praying in Tirta Empul Temple.
BALI, INDONESIA – DECEMBER 5, 2017: Balinese man praying in Tirta Empul Temple. Bali island

The message of this blog is short, so if you are short on time, or your attention span is short read on, I’ll be quick. I promise.

Create with EASE

It’s Sunday morning and I’m reminded of the song ‘Easy like Sunday morning.’ That’s exactly how your relationship with creativity can and should be.

If you are a writer or a filmmaker here on this planet right now you have a duty, you have a duty to pour your creative music onto the page, through words, drawing, painting. Whatever mode you’ve chosen, or has chosen you, give birth to it.

Create NOW

Forget the excuse of ‘I don’t have time.’ Time won’t give you time so you better do it now, in the present rather than waiting till tomorrow, when there will be one day less.

During lockdown, I’ve heard the same old question, hard on the ears like a stuck record.: ‘What sort of stories do you think the market will be looking for?‘ Frankly, who gives a flying saucer what the market thinks. If you try to write a disaster movie because you think that’s what a fearful population wants to see, write it by all means but if you ain’t passionate about it, it won’t fly. Besides, haven’t we got enough disaster in the world without inflicting fictional disaster on our fellow human beings?

Create what MATTERS

I honestly feel that anyone with a single creative bone in their body was born to share their message with the world. And, each of us has something different that matters to us, be it fair treatment and equality, religion, saving the world, animals, coffee, chocolate.

Create what you CARE ABOUT

I dare you do one thing after reading this. Plant a seedling of something creative that MATTERS TO YOU. Not what matters to Netflix, Channel 4 or any other studio seeking work, but create what matters to you.

Create with EMOTION

In the words of Collab Writers’ Founder Collaborator, Elliot Grove:

“Good storytelling is all about the emotion.”

Without the emotion, your creation will be flat and I reckon you can only inject that ‘real’ emotion into writing, or a painting if you have some kind of feelings about your subject. You might love it, you might hate it, either works. What you mustn’t show is an I couldn’t care, nonchalant attitude. That doesn’t rock anyone’s boat.

If you want an example of raw emotion, and lesson 101 in storytelling that matters, re-watch the movies of one of my favourite actors and filmmakers, Mr Clint Eastwood.

Create after doing your HOMEWORK

Last night I watched Gran Torino, a tour de force dealing with, amongst other things, social issues, nationalism and racial tension that matter more than ever today. The tension and conflict build from the get go and has you on the edge of your seat until the shocking ending. I’ve seen the film at least twice before but my emotional rollercoaster began as soon as the opening credits fell away.

Create a rollercoaster of EMOTION

I felt an immense dislike for the lead character, Walt from his first sentence and spitting at his neighbours. The racist views made my blood boil. The writers and filmmakers did their job brilliantly, emotive story telling that built and built with each inciting incident. And they achieved that really clever thing, that the best movies do where the character changes, grows and learns from the mistakes of his past, embraces change and with that you, the see’er grow to have a deep respect for him. As the movie develops, Walt discovers he has more in common with his neighbours than his own people and they become his family. In the end, he commits the ultimate sacrifice caring more about their survival than his own. Now that’s what I call emotional telling of a story that matters.

To steal the emotion from another great emotive movie ‘The Godfather’:

“You’ve gotta “go for the marmite” with your creative works.”
– Jennie Griffiths

Love or hate what you write about. Never, ever ‘like’ or shrug your shoulders about your subject or message, feel the emotion and whatever you create will matter. 


Go fund yourself (and bake cherry pie)


Bake & sell every slice of your creative pie

If you cringed at the thought of a money blog, read on. If you were tempted by the thought of cherry pie, read on.  Many creatives think money and art don’t go hand in hand but it doesn’t need to be that way. We aren’t driven to create for money but that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve to be paid for our creations! Stop waiting around for Hollywood to come knocking, get savvy and learn to go fund yourself...

Many creatives are struggling in these times which has inspired us at Collab HQ to offer practical and supportive tips to help monetise creative talent. You are talented and deserve to be rewarded. As your grandmother hopefully taught you, never put all your eggs in one basket. Rather than having another Netflix binge, grab a pen and paper and draw a circle. How many slices are there to your creative pie? In each section, label a creative talent you could earn from. We invite you to take one action every day for the next 21 days to monetise your creative talent pie.

1.Examine your thoughts & money habits

This is the hard bit. Examine your relationship with money. Do you see money as negative? Listen to your thoughts and conversations about money. If you are in debt and moan about never having enough, you’ll attract more of the same. For a bit of fun, why not try Rhonda Byrne’s the Secret and write yourself a cheque for your creative projects, put it up on your fridge and manifest!

2.Reframe your money relationship

If you tell yourself your life is abundant then you might just end up attracting more money. This isn’t pie in the sky, for more motivation on earning money whilst doing what you love, check out ‘The Money Tree’ by Chris Guillebeau. Keep a ledger of your incomings and outgoings for the next 21 days (including direct debits). If there are things you don’t want to spend money on that you don’t have to, don’t.

3.Pie chart your creative income sources

Back in school we drew pie charts. Think of your creative life as a warm juicy cherry pie. Decide whether you are going to cut your pie into halves, quarters, sixes or sevens. Label your creative talents into pie portions and write down a monthly figure that your time is worth. Stick your pie chart on your fridge, alongside your cheque from the universe.

4.Develop a portfolio of creative outlets to help fund your projects

Once you’ve cut your pie, let the cherries ooze out. One of our founder collaborators is fluent in a second language and in lockdown has been tutoring via Zoom. Another member has been mentoring and coaching actors, soundproofed a cupboard and recorded an audio book. These are just some of the countless ways to get creative in ways that’ll reap rewards. If you play an instrument, can that be a slice of pie – piano lessons via zoom? Can you write for a magazine? Baking a creative pie is building your brand and showing you aren’t a one trick pony.  Get creative and don’t be shy about hustling for work and flaunting your skills.

5.Patreon your projects – it’s as easy as…pie

My dad’s an artist, always has been, always will be. Self taught, no posh art school diploma, his art was a product of hard graft, passion and grit. He painted whenever he could and built up a collection he exhibited in local art galleries. This created a fan base and demand drove commissions. A local hotel loved his work so much they filled it with his local watercolour paintings that adorn the walls today. It was hard to get creative work out there in those days, there was no social media, it was word of mouth worthiness. Today, it’s a piece of pie, so there is no reason not to be earning from your work (if you want to). All you need to do is get it out there and remember, money is applause!

Do you want to get paid for the art you are creating? Do you want to build a fan base for your work? If so, PATREON is a no brainer contestant for a slice of your pie!

In a nutshell, it’s a virtual shop/online channel to you and your creative projects. Supporters pay per post or creation, or on a monthly basis. You decide the frequency of your creations, whatever suits you. The other cool thing is you get to engage directly with your supporters. Unlike Kickstarter or Indiegogo, there is no end date, Patreon support is ongoing.


Many members developing projects are eager to crowdsource but having not done it before don’t know where to start. On top of Patreon, you could do a one-off campaign to fund a social/creative movement, book or movie. There are many options – first off, do your homework, plan your campaign, think up rewards, shoot a short video on your phone, tell people about your project through social media, market the project and you’re ready, steady, GO!

Indiegogo – the preferred site of filmmakers. Current creative projects include writing and publishing, TV and web series, music, photography, film, comics (the list is endless).

Kickstarteras it’s all or nothing, the fees are lower than Indiegogo but there is a risk that you might not hit your goal. Another reason your marketing and social media campaign is critical to its success.

The key difference between these two platforms is that Indiegogo has a ‘flexible funding’ method so you get whatever amount you’ve raised (even if you don’t meet your goal). Kickstarter, is a ‘fixed funding’ site so if you don’t hit your goal you walk away with nothing. Remember that supporters are buying into ‘you’ so make your campaign as genuine and real as possible and deliver on your promises.

From experience, add a year to your timeframe. Creative projects take longer than you imagine and there are unexpected events like this year that you can’t foresee. Two years on, we are still editing Consequences (the novel that was one of our crowdfunding rewards). We will get it out to our backers (hopefully this year) but it has been later than planned and we really appreciate the patience of our supporters.

7.Apply for film grants, enter contests and seek charitable funding to support your work

Whilst many organisations have cut funding for the arts, some remain and you’ve got to be in it to win it. So, use this ‘indoor time’ to throw your creative hat into the ring. The BFI Fund remains. If you’re a screenwriter, The ISA has multiple contests, including the Emerging Screenwriter contest for TV pilots or features (deadline June 30th 2020). If you are telling stories that matter that reflect the issues of our time, you may be in with a chance. And, let’s remember, Film Festivals that can showcase your work like the Raindance Film Festival, established by Founder Partner, Elliot Grove.

On the theme of stories that matter, have a think about charities that might be interested in the work you are creating. If your film promotes diversity or mental health support then contact charities and ask how you might work together. If your goals merge, they might give you a mountain to shout from. Many creatives don’t get paid because people who might support them don’t know they exist. You are ‘real’ influencers, you have something to say through your creations, so it’s time to get on social media and give future generations someone to follow who can teach them something that matters.

8.Walls are tumbling down – send your work to publishers /industry and enter writing competitions

Publishers who were once closed to unrepresented writers are opening their doors to unsolicited manuscripts. You don’t need an agent to get noticed these days. Take advantage, knock on those virtual doors and submit your work.

If you’ve got any slices of pie left (are you hungry yet? I am) please offer one slice to writing competitions. There are so many out there. It’s fun, good practice and if you’re lucky you might be long or short listed or better still, win! Here’s a list of this year’s top writing competitions. Don’t be put off if they don’t bite, accolades are just applause and like marmite you’ll never be everyone’s cup of tea. Your pie is delicious whether you got paid for all of it or offered up a slice or two for free. And none of those ‘I don’t have time’ excuses, how many Netflix series have you watched this year?? Some writing contests are 100 words for micro fiction, check out Retreat West.

Conscious that many of you are keen to learn from industry professionals about how to finance your writing and movie projects, one of our favourite Film Producers and Writers, Ali Mashayekhi has accepted our invitation to the next Collab Writers’ meet-up on July 2nd to share his top tips on crowdfunding and tricks of the trade.

Tune in to hear Ali’s top tips on Thursday 2 July at 7pm BST. Till then, I’m off to bake and eat that delicious cherry pie…and I hope you will too.