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Nanowrimo Collab style – ‘Freewrimo’

Nanowrimo

If you are on social media you’ll have heard ‘nanowrimo’ on many a writing site recently. You will probably in fact not want to hear it anymore.

If at the other extreme, like the DJ Chris Evans you’ve shunned your phone to reclaim your time and live in the moment, it might have escaped your attention.

What is Nanowrimo?

I’t’s what it says on the tin – November novel writing ‘mission’ en masse. Where writers commit to writing their first draft in the month of November and can use tools and reminders and support to help them meet their targets.

As we are three days into November already it got me thinking, I must remind Collabers amidst the fervour of Nanowrimo that this is a great time to kickstart writing projects.

But Miss, I don’t want to write a novel, and I’m too busy to write it in a month” I hear you cry.

No problemo, here at Collab Writers, we are also put off by the ‘rules’ and the ‘prep’ that a simple google search of Nanowrimo reveals:

To hit 50,000 words in one month, you must write at least 1.666 words per day over the 30 day period.”

Geez, this gives me the wrong kind of shivers. Do you really think that Hemingway and Oscar Wilde wrote that way? Doubt it very much, they probably drank strong coffee and a bottle of the hard stuff and wrote till the candle went out and the bottle drained. In the words of Ernest Hemingway:

Never delay kissing a pretty girl or opening a bottle of whisky.”

This isn’t encouraging alcoholism. There are plenty of non alcoholic gins, everywhere. What I’m getting at is that I’m pretty sure Ernest and Oscar took better care of the pleasures in life than abiding by the rules and they wouldn’t have been so hard on themselves! We live in a world of rules, laws and must do’s. Creativity is about ideas that can come from ordinary life and passion. Whilst you of course need to show up to get words on a page, chill out and let life flow! If you write 1,500 words one day and a fat zero the next, but you had some sh*t hot creative thoughts then that’s the job well done writers!

Have no fear, in our disruptive style we have suggested a mix up tape for how to approach ‘Freewrimo’. Here at Collab, we’ve ripped up the rule book from day one. Our ‘Consequences’ collaborative work of fiction (which is a third editing pass closer to being ready) disrupted the Victorian parlour game, Consequences. It was the genesis behind the idea of Collab Writers. We then had to ‘take action’ to make a creative collaboration platform. Here is Jennie Griffiths, Co-Founder of Collab Writers’ idea for a 7 day plan:

Freewrimo – 7 day plan

You heard it here first, Freewrimo is Collab Writers’ disruptive and inclusive version of Nanowrimo. If you need a definition, make up your won – think ‘in the moment’ and the freedom to create, when and wherever you want.

At Collab Writers, we encourage you to create, which includes writing freely in the moment, at any moment you can. Freewrimo is not just for November, our advice applies equally to any day of any month, any time. If you awake at 3am because Dr Sleep stole your dreams, our advice is don’t moan, sleepwalk to your lappie and write away.

Day 1 – Download those ideas:
Wonder, wonder and wonder some more – jot down your ideas even a few words trigger your memory. If you need help to download ideas, read our previous blog on this topic and ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. You’ll be turning ideas away you’ll get so many!

Day 2: Thinking and not thinking:
Now that you’ve planted the seed of creativity, brainstorm on your ideas, think fast and slow about how might they take shape. This can happen by not thinking as well as thinking. Meditate or go for a run. Or,  just be in the moment, ‘Freewrimo’ style.

Day 3: Plan
This doesn’t have to be a storyboard – a one pager will do – a mind map or words in bubbles that link into the mothership of your idea. A beginning, middle and end is the makeup of any and every story. Oh, and emotion, never ever forget the emotion.

The importance of the planning process was confirmed to me recently by one of our most respected writers, Salman Rushdie. At an Esquire talk and book signing of his new novel ‘Quichotte – on behalf of Collab Writers, I asked how he plans after downloading an idea.  In short, he answered “You have to plan” and I would agree. He expanded that, at the beginning he planned “a lot” admitting that he plans less these days. He trusts the process and let’s it take him where it wants to (I am paraphrasing).

If you worry that you will be sat with a blank page, fear not, have faith. Hemingway’s way to combat Writer’s Block, which is a great tool if you are stuck is to write a true sentence first and go from there. In the words of Ernest Hemingway’s delectable ‘A Moveable Feast’ channel this mantra:

“Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now.”

Day 4: Take a pew and get some words on a page
Open your lappie or notebook, grab a pen and write. There is no way around this – ideas won’t be shared in your head. They can only be shaped, edited and read if you get words down on a page. It doesn’t matter how rough, good, or bad. Everything can be worked through and transformed with the help of a good editor – if your route is to publish.

Day 5: Carry on writing
You’ve done the hard part, you showed up, you just need to carry on and one day finish. My advice, is to keep showing up. You won’t be disappointed.

Day 6: Take a Break  – I’m too busy living to write
That’s fine – give yourself a break today and every day. Life is for living. Do as few things as possible in life because you feel you must. Really, life is short and we are here to experience and enjoy it. In the words of our late, brilliant literary friend, Oscar Wilde:

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

How can you write a masterpiece if you have no real life experience to write about? It’s the emotion that your readers want and that friends, comes from living life.

Day 7: Water your ideas again.
Like flowers, your creative projects need care, attention and action. Get your watering can and feed your ideas, if you want them to grow. If you don’t care for them, let them die. It’s your choice, not every idea can come to life. With one more from Oscar Wilde:

Art never expresses anything but itself”

With ‘Freewrimo’ encouragement from Collab Writers and the inspiration of the literary greats behind you, go forth this November, December and into 2020 with the freedom to create any time, anywhere. Let ‘FREEWRIMO‘ be your mantra. Repeat it daily & write.

Do you fancy some time out with fellow creatives?

Here are two November Collab events to what your creative appetite:

Join Collab Writers to mingle and create in the style of Wilde and Hemingway at the Library Club London this Thursday, 7 November,

And come and party with us on 27 November at the new environmentally friendly Arboretum Club. The living ceiling of plants promises to oxygenate your magical ideas.

See you there,

Collab Writers.

A return to the Silver Screen if you please

Playing catch up with the original film noirs, last weekend I watched Sunset Boulevard for the first time! I know, a late bloomer you may say. The tension, the inciting incidents, the fashion and tragic-comedy are difficult to match in today’s movies. What’s also difficult to match 100 years on, is the prominence of women on the silver screen.

Female Face Time

Cast your minds back to the black and white movies you’ve seen. Women were given as much screen time as men and were cast as complex, multi dimensional characters, capable of great power, love, good and evil.

Sunset Boulevard

What a classic film noir! Plot spoiler coming…ageing actor falls in love with younger man and goes crazy – note to self.

The leading lady, Norma Desmond (played by silver screen legend, Gloria Swanson) quite literally leads the movie from the moment she comes on screen. In a classic line from the movie, Norma lives and breathes her diva image with the words:

“I am big, it’s the pictures that got small.”

Gloria was big. For Sunset Boulevard she earned an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe win. As well as starring in, Gloria produced her own independent films.

Influence change through independent film

As Gloria Swanson knew, independent film is a great place to influence change. It can be used to project a picture of the real world or how it ought to be portrayed to the world at large. The faces and places we see in independent film, are often more representative of the real world we live in; rather than the one chosen by wealthy studio executives and powerful production companies who get to decide what we watch. 

I experienced this real world feeling at the opening night of The Raindance Film Festival  with ‘Krow’s Transformation.’ It told the heartwarming journey of a transgender young model. There was a palpable feeling of euphoria as the credits rolled. I recognised that feeling as one of happiness and coming together of us as a ‘people’, regardless of personal characteristics, be they race, sex, sexual preference, disability, religion or any other differences that make us greater as a whole.

At the Collab Writers October meet up I overheard a conversation between a screenwriter and actor about the most common question asked by studio executives or film financiers about a movie:

“Who is the leading male?”

Outraged, and wanting to hear more I butted in and asked several actors in the room if they had experienced this. Each one of them, female and male, rolled their eyes and replied:

“All of the time.”

A change has got to come

If you don’t want to have to hear that question again. I for one, don’t wish to (unless of course the question is the gender neutral “who is leading actor?”) take a stand, and object. In the words of the great lawyer, Mahatma Gandhi:

“you must be the change you want to see in the world.”

So, how do we bring about change?  For starters, if you experience discrimination or unfair treatment in any way, shape or form, stand up and call it out. And remember, there are laws that prohibit it. Change begins at the grass roots level, including in the world of independent film. If you are afraid, ask yourself what Gloria Swanson would do or say. I doubt she would have stayed quiet – with six husbands under her belt she likely knew when to call bad behaviour out.

Write scripts and books that give fair representation across the sexes, or that are gender neutral. You get to choose what books you write and movies you make.

Two minds are better than one

Collab Writers, with lights, camera and action are ready to lead the disruption. Join us to connect, collaborate and co-create. To quote a line from Norma at the end of Sunset Boulevard as the police lie in wait, all she can see are the stage lights and cameras:

“All right, Mr DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

 

For a taste of collaboration, join us at The Library Club on November 7 for Collab Writers monthly meet up and a game of Halloween themed spooky ‘Consequences’. Prepare to embrace your inner ghoul.

Become a founder member

Could there ever be a better deal for a tenner? Founder members enjoy benefits and discounts with all of the partners we are working with.

£10.00

Get off your shelf CWs, it’s Festival Time!

Raindance Film FestivalNow that you are all firmly back in your back to school routines – with your pens full of ink, early nights and chilly mornings, the Raindance Film Festival has returned to London for its 27th year of disruptive filmmaking.

This year’s programme is truly inspirational with boundary pushing documentaries; movies, long and short; a well informed programme of industry talks and a groundbreaking VR showcase. All of the artistic creations on the big screen in Piccadilly have one thing in common, they are all co-creations, the touchstone of Collab Writers.

The opening film, Krow a documentary about a transgender superstar was informative and heart wrenching. An important film to highlight and encourage the vital coming together of humanity at a time of great divide. Spot on Raindance! See it Tuesday night.

For you die hard Raindancers, you know how inspirational the festival is even to the most seasoned of filmmakers so if you know of anyone just starting out on the journey, send them down to Piccadilly Circus.

10 Raindance Movies and events to go see this week

Collab Writers have saved you time by picking a selection of sensational Raindance offerings this week.

1.Live Ammunition – Vue Piccadilly, Monday 23 September followed by Members Drinks at the Century Club.
Tickets here

An opportunity for you to pitch that story idea that has been burning inside of you to an industry panel of experts – and, get constructive feedback to help you progress. It’s also great to hear others pitch. Having pitched ourselves last year, we recommend this.

2. Homeless Ashes – Vue Piccadilly, Monday 23 September 9:15pm
Tickets Here

A superb film highlighting the plight of some of the country’s homeless population. Survival on the streets. Like so many Raindance films this will pull at your heart strings and encourage you to think about how you can be of service to those less fortunate than you.

3. Everybody Flies – Vue Piccadilly, Tuesday 24 September
Tickets Here

If you are a regular flier you might, or might not want to see this warts and all documentary. Like the environment and politics, it’s better to know.

4. Why are we Creative – Vue Piccadily, Today, Tuesday 24 September 3:15
Tickets Here 

Jennie saw this late last night and is raving about it. She says:

This has to be one of the highlights of a festival, full of creative types who will appreciate how some of the world’s most creative minds interpret their creativity. If you want some creative inspiration, watch this – you won’t be disappointed.

5&6. ‘Alice’ and ‘Schemers’ – Vue Piccadilly, Wednesday 25 September
Alice Tickets Here 6:30pm
Schemers Tickets Here 6:45pm

These two movies both look great. Alice was produced by our Founder Partner Elliot Grove. It tells the story of a woman forced to make tough personal choices as a way out of poverty. Part of the Womens’ story series. As we know, such stories are not limited to women. Schemers highlights the ingenuity of human nature, we will let you see for yourself what a young ex-footballer’s ‘scheme’ is.

7.VR Showcase – From Thursday 26 September @ The Oxo Tower
Tickets and Progamme Here

If you’ve yet to adorn the goggles, here’s your chance to be taken both physically and mentally to a fantasy world. It’s certainly the future!

8. Scars, Saturday 27 September
Tickets Here 8:30pm

Raindance likes to keep life real. This documentary promises to be a tale of humanity, encouraging society to look beyond the cover of our books. We are not our appearances.

9.Hurt by Paradise, Saturday 27 September
Tickets Here 8:00pm

An artist’s journey is often set with unexpected twists and turns and challenges along the way. This is a Saturday night movie that promises a rollercoaster tale of a young poet and single mother.

10. Aren’t you Happy, Closing night film – Sunday 28 September
Tickets Here 5:00pm

Who doesn’t want to be happy at the end of a festival. This is a film that promises to finish the 27th Raindance Film Festival on the emotional high it started on with the heartwarming, Krow.

The films and documentaries featured here are but a glimpse of the indie filmmaking talent on display in London this week. Take a look at the full programme or download the Raindance App to check it out for yourself. At every film screened you will get to see the provocative trailer set in a futuristic, dystopian London. if you can’t wait, sneak a peak below.

We will see you there!

Collab Writers 

Collab Writers Networking at the Library

Come and meet fellow writers, filmmakers and other creatives in one of the coolest private members clubs: The Library – situated in the heart of London’s Theatreland. This event is free for Founder Members. Guests just £10.00 Thursday January 9th 2020 19:00 – 21:00

£10.00

It’s Time to Care & Create

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”
Edward De Bono

In previous blogs we have waxed lyrical about tapping into ideas that are out there just waiting for you to net them, tend to them and watch them grow.  And, Collab Writers can testify to the enjoyment we get from connecting members to collaborate and create. If you have attended our Collab Writers monthly meet-ups, creativity abounds, relationships are formed and we play writing games together. It is pure creative flow and is a fun change from an evening in front of the box.

If you are wondering what you care about enough to create, you could take a macro approach and take a leaf from the Prince of Peace and spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, The Dalai Lama:

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
The Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama doesn’t just write about ‘kindness’ – his raison d’être is to spread the word of kindness through every action and word.

In a world where our politics are becoming more and more divisive by the minute, it’s important for our creations to have a caring element. We have the opportunity to encourage people to come together and to let the world know that there is more that unites us than divides us.

What brings us together?

At a time when it is vitally important to focus on what brings us together, remind yourself just how many things unite us. In addition to kindness, compassion is a lens through which to live your life and create.

Compassion is the radicalism of our time.
The Dalai Lama

Caring about the health and well-being of others is a great place to start showing compassion. Your background, education, ethnicity, culture, experience at work may spark a seed of passion in you. Whatever it is, use your voice and your power to help others in their lives, both now and in the future.

Mental Health messaging

Collab Writers’ recent debut in the world of executive film production was an opportunity for us to inject caring into our co-creation. Fright Fest short film, ‘One in Two People,‘ produced and directed by our Founder Collaborator, Ali Mashayekhi focuses on showcasing mental health issues.

Film and documentaries are a great opportunity to get your message across to a large audience in the same way that books are. It’s one of the reasons I founded the festival 27 years ago.
Elliot Grove, Raindance Film Festival Founder

If a movie or book seems like more than you can chew, you could start by writing a blog or insta essay (if you are an instagrammer) about something you care about. Before co-founding Collab Writers, Jennie Griffiths started her creative caring journey by blogging on ways she had learnt to ease a life lived with IBD including mindfulness and yoga to ease living with Crohn’s disease.

“If I can help to ease the burden and pain of one person coping with a long term illness, then as far as I am concerned my job is done.”
Jennie Griffiths

ladder

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Lao Tzu, Chapter 64, Tao Te Ching.

Many of us are put off social media by a dearth of pointless ‘influencers’ we don’t wish to follow. Fear not, you don’t have to be an ‘influencer’ to make a difference. The best advice we were ever given in founding Collab Writers was to conjure up the image of one person we wanted to influence (to encourage to collaborate to create). From our imagination, Collab Writers has grown to hundreds of founder members and collaborators, a community that is growing. Don’t be afraid to start small.

We do hope you find your creative passion and share it with the world. What will it be? i non-fiction offering on well-being, a sustainable fashion brand, helping your community or publicising an environmental concern. Whatever your thing, use your creativity and heartfelt passion to make a difference. Caring is sharing……..

Collab Writers Networking at the Library

Come and meet fellow writers, filmmakers and other creatives in one of the coolest private members clubs: The Library – situated in the heart of London’s Theatreland. This event is free for Founder Members. Guests just £10.00 Thursday January 9th 2020 19:00 – 21:00

£10.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone game for a ‘Surrealist Revival’?

800px-Lobster_Telephone_Photo

Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.” 

– Salvador Dali

“How do I generate writing ideas?”

…is one of the most frequently asked questions at  Collab Writers meet ups.  The answer we give isn’t what you will read in a ‘How to write‘ text book. Much of ‘Consequences’ (the collaborative work of Co-Founders Alford and Griffiths) is what they call ‘downloaded.’ And by ‘download’ they are not referring to ‘The Cloud’. They are talking automatic writing, the writing style favoured by the literary, intellectual and artistic Surrealist movement.

When we think of Surrealism, we often think of the 1920s/30s movement showcased by Salvador Dali, Andre Breton, Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Dorothea Tanning and countless others worldwide. Breton led the movement and dreamt up the Surrealist Manifesto so that artists would play by a number of rules and pull in the same direction.

So what has this got to do with Collab Writers and more importantly you?

It has everything to do with us and it could help you to add individuality, depth and intrigue to your stories.

Co-Founder Jennie Griffiths believes that automatic writing enabled the duo to embrace a fantasy world of the subversive protagonists whose streams of consciousness do not conform to language convention. And their actions are surreal, juxtaposed to reality, often defying logic. In the same way that Collab Writers have disrupted the Victorian parlour game Consequences, they also want to disrupt traditional story telling.

Collab Writers encourages you to discover your inner (subconscious) voice and rather than trying to adapt it to a set form of stories that are already out there, create your own journey and style of storytelling.

“The trick is letting go of the fear of having to conform to type to get an audience (and publishers) interested. For too long we have buried the rants and unconscious streams of pseudo consciousness that were the poster child of the Surrealist artists. In the world we are currently living in it is high time that we cast off the shackles of conventional storytelling and dig deep within for ideas and inspiration.”
Jennie Griffiths, Co-Founder Collab Writers.

fantasy

Streams of pseudo consciousness pervade the Art world

If you are the kind of person who wants hard evidence of how this has worked with examples of the commercial success of surrealism, you don’t have to look far for evidence of  successful subversive artists and writers. Lewis Carroll’s Tales of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland would no doubt have been part of your childhood reading. Whilst he may not have been an official member of the surrealist movement, his writing and illustrations were undoubtedly channeling the subconscious coffers of his vivid imagination, in defiance of logic and creating new words.

William Blake was another of the great poets and artists to have inspired the Surrealists  of the 1930s and been a commercial success. The Tate Britain has a treat in store for us this September with a William Blake exhibition where you can check out Blake’s surrealist success story, long before the movement took it’s name.

Practice downloading your unconscious consciousness by playing ‘Consequences’ 

Collab Writers are keen to encourage a revival in subconscious storytelling and awaken (within those of us who are game), the revelry of the Surrealist movement. Conscious that we live in an increasingly ‘real’ world with popular TV shows that focus on ‘real’ lives, we may need to tread the path of a diluted form of surrealism that weaves the subconscious through structured stories making them more interesting and multi faceted. It’s time to blend our imagination, conscious and unconscious ideas to embrace the ideologies and inspiration of the 21st century. We leave you with a thought provoking quote from Michael Richardson in the Dedalus Book of Surrealism 2: The Myth of the World:

“Surrealism, then, neither aims to subvert realism, as does the fantastic, nor does it try to transcend it. It looks for different means by which to explore reality itself.”

To explore reality through different means, in the spirit of the surrealists why not come and play the game of Consequences the first Thursday of each month at the Library. Our next event is on 5 September – we do hope to see you there.

 

Collab Writers Networking at the Library

Come and meet fellow writers, filmmakers and other creatives in one of the coolest private members clubs: The Library – situated in the heart of London’s Theatreland. This event is free for Founder Members. Guests just £10.00 Thursday January 9th 2020 19:00 – 21:00

£10.00

Collab Writers presents “Windswept”

Collab Writers was launched in November last year to bring creatives of all kinds together to connect, collaborate, tell stories and get work out there.  As well as encouraging connections and collaborations, we are here to help our members showcase their work off our platform to spread the word about their stories.

Windswept-Cover-New-web

Today, we’re launching our Collab Writers presents series where we’ll showcase members’ work, encourage book promotions and facilitate signings. Collab Writers wants to help you grow your audience. We want Collab to be a nurturing space where we encourage one another in a positive fashion. No trolls welcome!

The first Collab Writer to feature in Collab Writers presents is one of our founder Collaborators, Lynwood Shiva Sawyer, an independent publisher. This weekend Jennie caught up with Lynwood across the pond in Charlotte, USA, hot on the heels of his debut book signing tour.

Jennie: “Congratulations Lynwood on getting Windswept out there. Anjali was lucky enough to read an advance copy and was singing its praises. Can you give the rest of us a teaser for “Windswept”:

Lynwood: “Sure, I’ll give you a teaser by asking you some questions…

“How far would you go to protect the only man whom you ever loved who loved you in return?”

Jennie: “Pretty far!”

Lynwood: “What would you do if the man of your dreams had been targeted for assassination by his sociopathic employer, a voracious multinational mining corporation with apparently bottomless resources.” 

Jennie: “I’d go after them…and take them down.”

Lynwood: “What boundaries would you cross?”

Jennie:”More than I should.”

Lynwood: “Which of your most cherished scruples would you violate to save his life?”

Jennie: “Sounds like the girlfriend [protagonist] is in for quite a ride.”

Lynwood: “She sure is. Working class New Yorker Meghan Joyce is about to find out as she discovers herself trapped in a life-or-death struggle for the love of her life, Englishman Thomas Catherton Lockhart against a foe whose seemingly all-seeing reach is beyond her imagination. Meghan, determined to save Thomas’s life, persuades him to flee New York. But everywhere the desperate couple turns, they find Murdock’s well-financed killers lying in wait.”

Jennie: “Wow! That sounds like a seat of your pants action packed roller coaster ride thriller with a bit of romance thrown in.”

Lynwood: “Sure is. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers. Come on down to the Library where I will be signing copies on 5 September. Or, if you need a summer read grab it at the Amazon link below and I will sign it for you at the Library. “

Jennie: “Anjali and I are honoured to host you Lynwood and wish you all the very best with “Windswept.”

If you happen to be stateside, you can catch Lynwood where some of the action of “Windswept” takes place in New York this coming Saturday 10 August.
256 W. 38th Street (btw 7th & 8th)
Suite 703 NY,
NY 10018
3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Or, if you can wait until September to get your hands on a copy, sign up for our Collab Writers Back to School meet-up on Thursday 5 September at the Library, London. We will host our usual mingling and we will have an original  ‘back to school’ game of Consequences for you to play so get those pencils sharpened and fountain pens filled with ink at the ready. No ink fights and no hair pulling allowed.

ShivaLynwood Shiva Sawyer was born a vagabond spirit and still has yet to learn the meaning of “comforrt zone.” Besides earning a degree in organic chemistry at Florida’s experimental New College, Sawyer was an editorof the underground paper, The Charlotte Inquisition. He also wrote “The Tattered Rose” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine 500th First Story), lyrics for Wombat Productions bands The Mongolords and Moose Magic & the Spoilsports as well as the First Light Stage Company misfire, December Never Yields. He also wrote the cult classic, Space Avenger, one of the world’s last true Technicolor films. Founder and publisher emeritus of Pig­town Books and Hidden Pearl Books, he cur­rently writes screenplays for Norwich-based EQ Films.

And last but not least, credits go to:

The Writer of our first Collab Writers presents:
“Windswept” by Lynwood Shiva Sawyer
Book design by D. Bass
Original cover painting by Nad Wolinska (All rights reserved)
Cover design by Richard Amari
Photo of New York Skyline by Reynaldo #brigworkz Brigantty
from Pexels
Photo enhancement by Becque Olson
Available on Amazon HERE

Constructive reviews please… writing don’t come easy!

tomatoe

Disgruntlement and maliciousness through the ages: from rotten vegetables to rotten reviews…

I’m a firm believer in ‘if you haven’t got anything nice to say, shut it.’  Reviews should be helpful and truthful. Constructive, well-intentioned feedback is the way to go. Regrettably, there are way too many self-aggrandizing, inaccurate, bilious rants online.

Online reviews and ratings influence most of us. They impact our purchasing decisions and as they have a wider reach than print – ‘yesterday’s chip paper’ or word of mouth, they appear to have caused a behavioural shift of epic proportions.  I had to grudgingly admit that my behaviour had changed. It was time for me to face up to the troubling fact that whilst I have a mind of my own, I let others make it up for me. These others are a mix of well-balanced and off-kilter strangers who have an impact on the books I read and the films I see. It extends to the accommodation I end up staying in and the restaurants I go to (sometimes).  I have become a snob methinks, not wanting anything with a rating below four stars, or under 8 out of 10.  This needs addressing, stern note to self.

Before the prevalence of the virtual world I would read a book if the fly cover took my fancy, or if someone recommended it. I’d go and eat somewhere if I liked the look of the menu. I’d stay anywhere that was in the right location and price. This led to some great times and experiences and some abysmal ones, but my decisions were not governed by someone who gets out of bed on the wrong side wielding an axe that they have to grind. What’s worse a wayward machine may have posted the reviews, programmed by recalcitrant humans to spread misery at scale. They are indeed raging machines.

What about the harm caused? 

Malicious reviews burst bubbles…

People have been venting opinions for centuries. The act of throwing rotting vegetables originated in the first century AD and became a thing in the Victorian era.  Tomato stains may be difficult to remove but a malicious review cannot be erased (easily or at all in some cases). It is likely to exist in cyberspace forever. Whatever the method used throughout the ages, hostility hurts and derisive reviews are damaging.

It can ruin a person’s exciting new, bold path in life, one that they have strived for. A miffed customer left some scathing comments about a non-fiction novel written by an acquaintance. The reason was not down to content but the way her book was displayed online (not the author’s fault by the way). At that point she hadn’t sold a single copy of her wonderful book, online or printed.  Similarly, a friend had an excellent B&B in Devon and suffered a downturn in bookings after a review was posted that contained inaccurate comments and one blatant lie. The sites that hosted the reviews refused to take them down. The upshot is that the producer of the work or the business owner seems to have little or no control or say in this process.

At Collab Writers we want to provide a nurturing space for creative people to connect and collaborate. 

So what do you think as a writer, film maker, musician or artist about ratings and reviews?

Can anything be done to influence the detrimental digital influencers? We’d love to hear your ideas.

Anjali Alford, Co-Founder, Collab Writers

Collab Writers Networking at the Library

Come and meet fellow writers, filmmakers and other creatives in one of the coolest private members clubs: The Library – situated in the heart of London’s Theatreland. This event is free for Founder Members. Guests just £10.00 Thursday January 9th 2020 19:00 – 21:00

£10.00