‘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.


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


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


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

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


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


Nanowrimo Collab style – ‘Freewrimo’


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.