What were you born to CREATE?

candle

“Don’t die with your music still in you”

We use this wise saying to tell ourselves and others to seize the day and do what we love. In the current time of uncertainty, it is now more important than ever. We were each born do do ‘something’ only we can do. We have learnt in the last few weeks that it ain’t a rehearsal. THE TIME IS NOW. 

If you have yet to know what that ‘something’ is there is no time like the present to discover it. Be STILL, go within and think about what it is you love doing. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit so there you go. If you need some INSPIRATION, 400 odd years ago there was a bloke called William Shakespeare who some of you might have heard of. You might even have read some of his works.
Shakespeare
Well, William lived in London Town, on a street you may have walked past. Whilst in isolation during the Bubonic plague he wrote King Lear. During an earlier outbreak, he wrote two long narrative poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece.

When you read King Lear or saw the play, you probably didn’t think that it had been written at a time of great adversity, that uncannily mirrors what we are experiencing now. The pathos and sadness of the work certainly tells of a mind that is suffering. Just remember, he wouldn’t have had the creature comforts we have, like electricity, heating, online exercise classes a la plenty and food deliveries to our door. He would have had to make his way to the local market for provisions, wearing an old cravat instead of a face mask in dirty streets overrun by rats, the spreaders of the plague, so it is said.

He wouldn’t have had a laptop or dictation on his phone. It was a couple of hundred years before the typewriter! He’d have written by hand on paper by candlelight, possibly into the small hours, or maybe all through the night.

You might think that’s a tall order to follow but what do we know? What’s been done before, can be done again and out of great adversity can come great things. We don’t know very much with any certainty right now, except that everything is pretty much up for grabs. So, if you want to leave a creative legacy get working, there is no time like the PRESENT to get working on it.

You hold THE NOW in your hands. Spend your time wisely.

Working from home, your family commitments, Netflix and your online exercise are all essential segments to your ‘isolation’ days. It is also the perfect opportunity for you to CREATE with far fewer disruptions and interferences than you had in the past. Why not turn your WFH commute into your creative time? For many of us who used to work in an office, that is two hours a day. Not too shabby if you were one of the “I don’t have enough time” tribe in the previous world. Hands up, I was!

If you don’t CREATE what you WERE BORN TO LEAVE BEHIND, that my friends would be the biggest disappointment of your life. You owe it to yourself and future generations to do what you came here to do. We were each born to do something unique. We each have special talents, shared by no-one else, not even William Shakespeare. He did the generous thing, and in the face of huge adversity, he let his music flow out of him onto the page. And by goodness, have we enjoyed the fruits of his labour and learnt so much.

Use the Art of Letter Writing to tell your Future Self what you WANT TO CREATE

Why not write a letter to yourself or your loved ones (or Collab Writers) committing to what you want to do creatively in your lifetime.

If you have penned notebooks full of ideas for a project that no-one knows about, unless you do something about it, the risk is it’ll stay inside your four walls and not see the light of day. Do you want your creative musings to see the light of day? I can’t promise the fame and notoriety of Shakespeare but you will be remembered for what you did and loved, rather than just the chattels you left behind.

We don’t remember how wealthy Shakepeare was. We couldn’t care less what kind of home he lived in or how special his clothes or carriage were. We care about the brilliant writing he left behind that we have all studied and learnt from. And, future generations will do the same.

As we move into the Brave New World, think about this…..and use this time to CREATE. I will end, where I began, as that’s life isn’t it…. please, please:

Don’t die with your music still in you.”

 

Collab Writers Networking from home

Come and meet fellow writers, filmmakers and other creatives: During the Lockdown – join us FREE at our Virtual Monthly networking on April 2nd 19:00 – 20:00

£0.01

 

 

Let’s make calm & kindness viral

calm and kindnessLet’s create and not focus on all the slap

You’ll have received multiple emails this week from restaurants, businesses, shops, etc  in light of what is happening in the UK and across the world. They have to do this and it reassures us and makes us feel safer.

Here at Collab Writers, we are not going to mention ‘it’ by name as doing so gives it presence in our lives. If you find yourself more ‘indoors’ than ‘outdoors’ in your freetime then that is a wonderful opportunity to be creative.

Time indoors could be a blessing for your creative project. In a recent blog, I wrote about making time for your creative pursuits – well here you are – you’ve got it!

Choose what you put you attention on

“What you seek is seeking you
RUMI

No offence to journalists working hard, but I wish the media would calm down. Mad hysteria does not help people in testing times. If you are doing nothing but reading the news – perhaps ask yourself WHY?

If you must indulge, how about reducing your exposure to the hysteria? Whatever you are going through, FEAR is the last thing you want. It increases your heart rate and triggers the flight or fight response of the body.

CALM is what you need. I have some experience of illness, suffering, fear and panic. And that long list is so much easier to deal with in a state of CALM. And remember, we are all a lot tougher than we think we are. To take from Rudyard Kipling’s famous quote:

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…”

Reframe the madness to ease dis-ease and use it create

To some of you, this may seem a little ‘mindful’ for Collab. Well, here is Jennie ‘coming out.’ I’m spiritual/mindful and this is thanks to living with Crohn’s disease since a teenager. I’ve learnt to reframe and use the emotions from pain and suffering to do things, including create. In the words of Kanye West:

“Creative output as you know is just pain. I’m going to be cliche for a minute and say that great art comes from pain.

Cheers Kanye, glad you said it. Whilst I don’t have any qualifications to spread that word, I’ve done my time. Those of you at CW’s one year anniversary party, know that we launched the Easing Dis ease project – which is moving along, and this is a taster of that.

Out of great suffering can come great art

As creatives you know that emotional, physical, psychological ups and downs can result in incredible poetry, writing, art. And for those who don’t create but appreciate the creations of others, art has a wonderfully soothing effect. So creatives, you will always have an audience for your work. What’s important is that you pour out your emotions, frustrations, love or anger and create something only you have the power to create.

Art is to console those who are broken by life
Vincent Van Gogh

The currency of kindness

The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

I believe that in our lifetime we will see a gradual shift from the importance of the currency of money to the currency of kindness. It’s as obvious as it sounds. Large corporations reduce, money becomes less of a focus and kindness and good deeds become more important. Perhaps we are at the stage where we are building the foundations of this. How you react to yourself and others and what your children learn from you has the potential to change your life and focus.

The smile game

I decided to play the smile game in Canary Wharf earlier this week. I smiled at everyone who walked past me on my commute. Interestingly enough not many smiled back. It took forty odd people, and I’d say I have a friendly, non-intimidating face. So, I decided to spread the word. Many loved the idea and said they were going to practice it. They reported back and said it made them feel happier too. I thought they’d say that. A by-product of smiling is the release of endorphins, as is placing your hand on your heart.

Be grateful for those around you. Smile, even at strangers, go on – I dare you. If you need to learn how to do this, watch babies and young children. They smile more than us, and don’t hesitate to smile at strangers.

So if you feel yourself feeling anxious, unwell and stressing in the weeks to come, consider some ‘mindful’ thinking and reframe negative feelings by (i) smiling, and (ii) placing your hand on your heart. This will help you better manage troubled waters.

The show will go on

Rest assured that Collab Writers networking in April and May will happen. It may have to be online due to circumstances beyond our control. Rest assured, the community is alive and kicking regardless of what is happening around us. You can email Anjali and I at any time on info@collabwriters.com. We are also working hard on our website to help enhance the online experience for y’all!

Use this trying time to create. Remember, following the herd is the easy option. Collab Writers was set up to disrupt and we will continue that for the rest of our days and sincerely hope that you, The Collab Writers tribe will help to do that.

Our next ‘mindful creative’ blog will be on shaping your creative legacy. In the meantime, if you want some more mindful blogs, check out www.calmingcrohns.com.  

Collabers – your opinion counts!

When we launched Collab Writers at the end of 2018 we told everyone about our future book Consequences. A lot has happened over the past 18 months:

  • we have redrafted the book
  • we have had an editor in America checking and triple checking the manuscript
  • we have started drafting a screenplay
  • we have Readers waiting with beady eyes to pick up any remaining typos

We’ve also engaged the brilliant illustrator, Adam Blakemore of Strelka to come up with book cover and movie poster designs.

From a dozen of Adam’s ideas, we have boiled it down to just three. And now it’s your turn to let us know which cover you think is the most dynamic for our crime noir debut.

Please take a look and vote for the cover image you’d like to see in book stores!

Yours creatively,
BDAFBB6B-
Anjali and Jennie

Help us choose a cover image for Consequences:


Its easy! Just click on the link and hey PRESTO – we will get your vote!
Consequences Concept One

I prefer Concept One.

Consequences 2

I prefer Concept Two.

021_Consequences Cover Concepts (2) AB
I prefer Concept Three.

‘Take a leap and create on a Collabathon’

At February’s Collab Writers meet up, I was asked by one of our members how to make writing regular. He needed help to make his writing a habit, like going to the gym.

I’ve blogged previously with tips that I find useful to make time in our busy lives to create. Collab Writers also published a series of ‘creative apprenticeship’ blogs. Many accomplished writers have written non-fiction books about this too. You can find links to the works that have helped me in my blogs.

Make creating the new ‘brushing your teeth’

Would you dream of leaving the house or going to bed without brushing your teeth?

Ok, don’t answer that if it’s a ‘no’. Even if you don’t, you know you should. And, you also feel so much better when you do. You feel clean, it’s one of those many things that you can tick off your list. It’s just one of those things you do and barely think about it. The ideal would be to put your ‘creative’ endeavour, be it writing, drawing, filmmaking into that category of a must do every day.

Better still, whilst there is a way to brush your teeth, there is no set way to create or write. It’s completely free form. You can do what the hell you like. What’s not to love and you don’t even need to use toothpaste.

Make ‘creating’ your new ‘gym membership’

2018 statistics record 10 million people with gym membership across the UK. Wow! My guess is many of us spend at least 5-10 hours in a gym a week, some many more. Most people do this to keep fit and make ourselves look and feel good.

Can you imagine the library of creativity we would have if those people spent the equivalent or even half of that time creating! As a comparator, in my collaborative writing with Anjali, I spent approximately 40 minutes a day writing, five days a week. By my calculation, that’s less than four hours a week and within a year we had written a first draft of a book together.

And, I like to leave the best to last. Writing is FREE, absolutely FREE. So drop those weights, have a run outside, come home pick up your pen or open your lappie or Ipad and WRITE.

Record your creative nuggets when they come to you – you never know when you’ll use them!

Often when we are out and about we get ideas. Write those particles of gold dust down. You never know when you can use them. Anything you write or create needs to go through a period of digestion. It doesn’t come to you fully formed, you need to sleep on it and let it percolate.

Collabathon Leap Challenge

Our member who asked about tips for making time to write, suggested it would be a good idea if Collab Writers could have a regular meet up (in addition to our monthlies) to create individually and together.

Virtual Collabathon

It got me thinking that it would be an amazing idea if we could all come together virtually to create. The benefit of a virtual meet up is that those outside of London and the UK can also take part. They say there is power in numbers. Like collaboration, just having people around you doing the same thing, encourages you to do the same.

If you are interested we will be holding a Collab Writers Collabathon virtually on 29 February 2020. Rather than pinning you down to a particular hour, we are giving you the option to pick any hour of the 24 on that date to spend creating.

Here’s how it works:

Find a collaborator by posting #Collabathon on Twitter.

and/or

Start writing a story on Twitter and see if anyone wants to continue it, Consequences-style (you write a line or two and someone continues it) #Collabathon #Collaboration #Consequences #Collabwriters

and/or

Just announce on Twitter that you are writing and wait for the congratulations! #Collabathon

Park Collabathon summer 2020

We will arrange a get together in a London park this summer where we can work on our individual or collective WIPs en masse. It is incredibly powerful to be outside in nature and creating. Again it’s FREE, you can bring your own food and drink and there will be power in numbers. Look out for details on our website from June 2020.

In the meantime, rethink your daily routine and find a slot to write EVERY DAY aswell as brushing your teeth and getting that six pack down the gym. There’s more to life than the body, exercise that mind too!

I have a question about the Collabathon

Collaborate

Mindful Creative Collaboration

Nudge your ego out of the way to create

Out of suffering comes hope

If you or a loved one have ever been faced with a serious health issue, mental or physical, you’ll know that it has the most amazing side-effect. It cuts through the cr*p and focuses your mind, heart and soul on what and who matters. Everything else kinda falls away. It becomes noise.

Hopefully this will never happen to you, but I’d like to share my learning from multiple health challenges. After the immediate aftermath, I often experience a sharp lazer beam FOCUS to do the things that matter.

The birth of Collab Writers

Consequences
Co-founders Jennie Griffiths and Anjali Alford

Rewind a few years, and I suffered such a setback, a head injury. I fell and bashed my head on a stone floor. When I came round, my first focus was on the need for Anjali and I to set up Collab Writers. I felt like I had been given a second chance.

The idea had first come as a vision the week before the accident so it was fresh in my mind. But I attribute that accident to being the serendipitous bitter sweet near catastrophe out of which something very special was born. Collab Writers had to be created without delay. And so it began.

Projects with meaning

Blue Peter style, Anjali and I already had proof of concept for Collab Writers. We had already connected – collaborated – created on a first draft of our collaborative work of fiction, Consequences.

As we live in a society where perpetrators are often cast as men and victims as female, Consequences’ social message was to challenge that bias. And, as an homage to a future world without any crime, it is very much tongue and cheek in the style of the old crime noirs. Once published, we plan to give a percentage of future sales to charity to help victims of violent crime.

Easing Dis Ease Project

In addition to our fiction collaboration, Collab Writers has launched it’s first non-fiction project, Easing Dis Ease to tell stories of the dis ease of life and how people have reframed and channelled it positively to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.

These are the sorts of stories that we hope will help people deal with challenges that they or loved ones face. The focus will be on reframing suffering and instilling the message that out of suffering comes hope.

What matters to you?

As you bed further into January, take a moment to question whether that amazing project you are obsessed with is feeding your ego or making our world a better place. We aren’t saying don’t make films or write stories for the fun of it. We need some fun after all!

What we are saying is make at least one of your projects a project that helps others or gives something back. It could be giving a percentage to charity, a screening for charity or a free screening to those who can’t afford the price of a cinema ticket. These are just some ways to give back. There are countless others.

What are you here to create?

Asking yourself what matters, naturally leads onto the next questions to ask yourself. Prepare for some existentialism….

Why am I here?

What am I here to create?

What legacy or body of creation do I want to leave behind?

We are living in a world, a society where what we do matters. It has always mattered but it’s time for each and everyone of us to become conscious of this and to live our lives as a force for good. Do we need more meaningful and hopeful stories to be told?

Focus to start & finish

Focus is key to starting and finishing projects.

I am quick to get distracted by the next best idea, sometimes without finishing the one I am working on. Case in point is Consequences. Whilst Anjali has diligently worked with our editor, I have been working on the script and kicking off new projects like ‘Easing Disease’.

It’s important to make and begin future plans but it’s equally important to finish what you’ve started. That’s why we make a good team. When you collaborate, it is incredible how much more productive you can be. Try it!

We look forward to hearing your ideas for mindful creative collaboration. Or, if you are interested in the Easing Dis ease project… 

Creative play in 2020 and beyond!

IMG_1114If I read one more blog on ‘resolutions‘ this week I might just scream. It is such a loaded word. ‘Resolve’ and ‘solutions’ seem to be it’s make-up. Both are important to make progress in life and get things done. Where lies the ‘creative flow‘ and adventure in the ‘resolution’ though? First we have the pressure to make the Christmas season perfect, now we are expected to come up with a list of do’s and don’ts for the year ahead. And, this time round we are being asked to set our resolutions for the next decade. It’s hard enough to crystal ball gaze for one let alone ten years!

If resolutions are your thing, then go ahead and set them. There is no harm in making them and for those of us who often fall under the spell of ‘procrastination’ they can be a supportive friend in the year or decade ahead. Just take care not to follow them so doggedly that you miss out on what is right under your nose. That thing called ‘life’. Just remember to take a walk every so often to step away from your discipline and notice and smell the flowers. Nature is great for awakening creativity. I’m reminded of the wonderful quote from the movie ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ that reminds us to throw a little more adventure into our lives:

Life moves pretty fast. 

If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

If all of this talk of ‘resolve’ and future planning brings you out in a cold sweat, then you have come to the right place. Collab Writers is the home of the disruptive, anti-resolutioners. Feel free to jump on that band wagon, right here, right now. At Collab Writers we encourage creatives to socialise to brain storm their ideas and work together to share ideas and ultimately, to create.

Let life flow to create

In place of a strict approach to ‘resolutions’ we encourage you to let life move in its natural mysterious ways. Creative inspiration requires openness and in order to be open we can’t be too fixed on wanting one particular outcome. By all means allow yourself to want and desire something (I’ve seen goals to write ‘a novel in a year’ on social media). That’s a great goal  but don’t be too hard on yourself if when you sit down to your blank sheet of paper on 1 January that no words flow. Perhaps you need to get out there to get inspiration to let your creative desire run free. Allow yourself to wildly go where no-one has gone before. Dare to be different in your creative pursuits and ideas.

You do need some discipline in your ‘do what you love’ equation

Admittedly if you are waiting for creative genius to come to you without any discipline there may be a little imbalance. You will need a certain amount of discipline and ‘resolve’ to write regularly. If you don’t show up often enough to your writing desk or studio, that wonderful idea might sail on down the river and go find someone else. The creative process like most things is life is about moderation and ‘Balance‘ is a key ingredient to getting creative projects done. Try not to be so fixed on an idea that you miss out on the ‘flow’ of life or creativity.

Make time for your creative playtime

How do I let life flow? is something  you may ask. What’s the secret? There is no magic wand to be waved and no pill to take. There is a lovely sanskrit word ‘lila’ that translates roughly as ‘divine play’ or ‘creative playtime’ as I like to think of it. What I have learnt is that when you go with the tide rather than paddling furiously against it, you will be led downstream without much effort. You need to trust yourself and the process of life. Just be you, and remember to enjoy the ride. Make a new year cocktail of the ingredients below, take that obsessive ‘resolve’ out of the equation and life should flow.

New Year Collab Writers cocktail for creativity:

Try sprinkling some of this fairy dust into your glass of champagne tonight:

Inspiration + showing up + connection + collaboration = creative flow = creation

Shared goals 

Resolutions in the West tend to be a bit ‘me, me, me.’ What ‘I’ want, what ‘I’ need. How about embracing a philosophy of including others in your master plan? What do they want? Is there something you can collaborate on for the greater good? Is there a shared passion or goal that you could work on together with someone else? It would certainly be a win win timewise. Anjali and I co-writing ‘Consequences’ is a good example of this. And we must confess… publishing ‘Consequences’ is our key shared goal for 2020. We are getting closer to that goal with those who have volunteered to ‘read’ for us.

There will be plenty of time to discuss shared dreams with fellow Collab Writers at the Library once a month in 2020. Get down off your shelf and come see the other writers and movie makers who come out to play. You never know who you might meet and what your shared vision might be for 2020 and beyond into the next decade.

Our next event is January 9 at the Library Club where the theme will be New Year’s Resolutions / Anti-Resolutions. See you there!

In the meantime, Happy New Year. We wish you a year and a decade full of life’s adventures and creative play!

Jennie and Anjali, Collab Writers

CW Holiday Consequences

Consequences Parlour GAme
Don’t let the Turkey or the Vegan nut roast get all of your attention, attend to your creative side. As an ode to collaboration channelling years gone by, we encourage you to collaborate with family or friends this holiday season. Consequences was a real feature of Christmas gatherings.

And you heard it here first, it’s back in fashion, Collab Writers’ style. In our disruptive fashion, we don’t hide what we’ve written, we share and bounce off one another’s creativity to achieve a richer collaborative work. The festive season is the perfect time to exercise that creative muscle and play Consequences! If you’re lucky enough, you might have family or friends who once played it.

If you’re up for it download our Collab Writers Holiday homework. If you’d like to share your holiday stories with us and see them on our website in January, do email them through or we will collect them in January.

If you’d like the names of your collaborators to be revealed so that they can see their names in lights on our website, feel free! If you’d rather a pen name for your collective grouping, we look forwarding to some interesting names.

Stuff those stockings full of oranges

If only we’d played Consequences as children. My grandma had her own version. She used sit me on her knee, peel a satsuma or tangerine and pretend that each segment was a new page in a book.I was spellbound every time. Each piece of fruit told a different story and I couldn’t eat enough of those segments.

So, parents, grandparents, listen up – stuff those stockings full of oranges (Victorian style). It’s a wonderful way to give your kids one of their five a day and encourage creativity. Simple and cheap gift giving – step back in time this holiday season!

Collab writers Notebook Design Number 1

We will send this straight to your door for just £15.00. Each notebook is signed and numbered by artist Caroline Lowe

£15.00

Collab Writers Networking from home

Come and meet fellow writers, filmmakers and other creatives: During the Lockdown – join us FREE at our Virtual Monthly networking on April 2nd 19:00 – 20:00

£0.01