After collaborating on a novel, two time-poor but idea-rich writers have launched a community to help other ambitious authors connect, collaborate and create.
Collab Writers is a global community for creatives to connect, collaborate and create on poems, flash fiction, short stories and ;novels - and to get those stories on screen.
At the heart of the startup is a hub where members can collaborate to create and publish their work, with assistance and guidance from the Collab Writers team. They will also connect the best writers to the film world, to help adapt their work.
"Creatives at Collab Writers aren't just writers," says co-founder Jennie Griffiths. "We want to encourage a new wave of surrealist creatives to bring pictures, photos, words, images, illustrations, film and music together. We encourage a mash-up of creative genres and mixed media products including short graphic memoirs, manga and stories told through song and screen.
"Collab Writers is a call to action to rise up off the sofa, turn off the box set and awaken your inner creative through connecting and collaborating with like-minded creatives."
Collab Writers began as a joint concept between two writers, Jennie Griffiths and Anjali Alford - both short on time but rich in ideas and determined to write. Facing writer’s block going solo, they joined forces on a book, Consequences, where they took turns to write chapters from two different protagnists' points of view. After a year they had completed the first draft, which is now being edited in preparation for publication by the summer of 2019. They are currently working on their second collaborative book.
It was off the back of writing Consequences that Griffiths had the idea to build a community to encourage other creatives to collaborate and disrupt the norm. “The idea of Collab Writers came to me in shavasana on a yoga retreat," she reports. "When the class finished I ran to my room, grabbed a notebook and mind mapped the vision. At first it was a dream but the idea kept bugging me until we did something about it. Last week, we launched to a room of 100 writers and other creatives.”
By day, Griffiths is a lawyer with experience in the private and public sectors while Alford, who was a longstanding member of the Greenwich Writers Group in the 1990s, works in marketing.
The final member of the core team is founding partner Elliot Groves, founder of the Raindance Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards,who is in charge of connecting the community to prospective producers. “I am pleased to be able to contribute to this exciting new venture," he says. In my nearly thirty years working with writers and filmmakers I can see how Collab Writers fulfils a unique and important need.”
What's the gap in the market?
"A lot of creatives (especially writers) create on their own which can result in writers’ block, procrastination and frustration," Griffiths says. "Creatives also usually have day jobs and are often ‘time poor’. Once we saw that collaborating was helping us get over these issues, it sparked the idea to encourage others to do the same. And, the idea to build a whole community evolved to encourage creatives to work together for the whole of the journey, from partnering up (connect) to collaborating through writing and editing (collaborate) to getting work out there via publishing, movie making and so on (create)."
Success so far
Collab Writers launched in November 2018 with a group of Founding collaborators: Ali Mashayekhi (screenwriter, producer, director) Shiva Sawyer (publishing guru), Michelle Bromham (film and TV editor) Lilly Guichard (writer, blogger, photographer), Pippa Kay (photographer), Caroline Lowe (print designer), Seth Valchev (PR), Emel Michael (poet, singer-songwriter) Tremayne Miller (writer, actor) Erich Redman (actor) and Karissa and Katie Strain (actors and screenwriters).
The team also kicked off a successful crowdfunding campaign to fund a number of creative collaborations in their Collab Writers incubator, raising £5,000 and inviting supporters to sign up for founder membership.
The first collaboration to benefit from the campaign is Griffith's and Anjali's debut novel, Consequences, which resonated with an editor, Michael Simpson, in the US. The pair are currently working on designing the book cover and plan to print a limited edition run of books avaiable to be pre-ordered from the website before producing a full run through Collab Writers’ new publishing house, Dark Art Books. A Canadian producer, Ali Mashayekhi has also signed on to produce the movie in 2019 and Canadian twins, Karissa and Katie Strain, have volunteered to play the protagonists.
In 2019 the team plans to design and build an app to connect members of the Collab Writers community globally so they can achieve similar success stories. "We intend to match members by interests and genre of storytelling," Griffiths expains. "We envisage using some form of dating algorithm to hook writers up together with software to make it easy for writers to collaborate on the go."
Without a doubt, the co-founders struggle most with time. "Both of us work full time in demanding jobs," Griffiths says. "The trick is to find a work life balance that allows us to give Collab Writers the time and effort it deserves to enable it to grow into itself and become the creative community that we all need.
"We are also new to the world of writing scripts, publishing and app development, so there will be a significant learning curve. Fortunately, we are lucky to have founding collaborators with the right experience and just because we’re grown up we never stop learning. It’s so satisfying to be doing something that scares us. In our view, that’s what life’s all about."
The long-term goal is to make Collab Writers into a one-stop shop for training, editing, indie publishing and getting stories to screen.
"We want to disrupt ‘old ways’ as much as possible and breaking down barriers at each stage of the process to help get work out there," Griffiths explains. "We'd also like to take Collab Writers into schools to encourage the younger members of society to collaborate and co-create."
Advice to other publishing entrepreneurs?
"Carpe diem – seize the day and just do it! We could have spent years building and growing Collab Writers before launching but when you love doing something, why wait, why not get started and invite others to join to help build it. It’s about ‘enjoying the journey not the destination’ remember. Don’t wait until your idea is ‘perfect.’ Just get it out there…there’s plenty of time to tweak it as you go along."