Creative Collaboration: the beautiful coincidence of Paradise Road Project

Clare and Jacqui colour (narrow) (2 of 1)

Clare Barry and I (Paradise Road Project) at the London Book Fair.


Many freelancers, like myself, are used to working individually: making all the decisions and relying entirely on self-motivation to keep going. But what happens when you collaborate and build a project with another entrepreneur (or another writer, another artist)? Is there power in teamwork or is it difficult to relinquish control?

Yesterday, fellow writer and entrepreneur Clare Barry and I launched Paradise Road Project. Together, we will be running the Urban Creativity Workshop at the gorgeous East End venue The Proud Archivist on May 23rd. The workshop is aimed at anyone who yearns to get their creative project off the ground and to see it through to completion. It’s for people who want to have more time to write, draw, design, perform or – indeed – collaborate; we are looking forward to working with both creative professionals and those who are longing to begin or return to a creative life.

But why ‘Paradise Road Project‘ and how did the collaboration begin?

Essentially, Clare and I were friends who met and drank tea in Richmond in a cafe on Paradise Road. It seemed a fittingly suitable place for two writers to meet, as we were aware of the literary connotations of the road: it was where Virginia and Leonard Woolf set up The Hogarth Press.

However, as we began to talk about a creative collaboration – about forming a community of creative people and working with them to help them become inspired, motivated and productive – we played with names for our project. ‘What about Paradise Road Project?’ Clare said, ‘as that’s where we spend so much of our time.’ It sounded perfect. But what we didn’t then realise, was the beautiful coincidence of our timing.

One day, after tea, standing in front of the blue plaque on Hogarth House, it struck me: ‘look, 1915!’ There it was. Exactly 100 years ago. Then, when we looked further into the story, it turned out the Woolfs moved into Hogarth House in March 1915. The coincidence seemed perfectly auspicious.

Why collaborate?

Clare+black+and+white+(1+of+1)For us, it was a no-brainer. As we got to know each other better, it was clear that we had to work together. When you meet the right collaborator, everything falls into place. What was really interesting in our conversations was how much common ground there was in terms of our interests – but also how our skillsets were so complimentary. So we bonded over talking about Jeannette Winterson (both big fans) and writing, but also over some of the blogs we followed online. This was the funniest part for me. I kept saying, ‘but I don’t know anyone who reads that blog!’ and ‘no way, you like Paul Jarvis too?’ It was a language that no-one else I knew understood. We had both looked for inspiration and found it in the same places.

However, we had different backgrounds in terms of our experience. I’d spent years as a writer and a coach/literary consultant, running my own business, whereas Clare, in addition to her writing, had been involved in much bigger organisations. She worked in executive education at London Business School and raised £1m in philanthropic partnerships for the London School of Economics. Clare was also part of the team that secured the custodianship of The Women’s Library. These days she writes about London, digital mindfulness and creative work/life slide. She is a creative writing mentor at the Ministry of Stories, press liaison for Postcard Productions’ The Stranger on the Bridge #findmike and adviser on media and partnerships to The Listeners Project, Hackney.

So what has it been like to collaborate?

For me, it’s been fascinating. I’ve learned so much about myself and poured a huge amount of passion into Paradise Road Project because working with such a good friend has been enormously energising. Clare is such a creative dynamo. From the beginning, she took control: she brought along agendas when I just had an old notepad and she sent me endless brilliant ideas by email. It has also been interesting working on our website together. What, so you mean everything I do isn’t perfect? Clare has taught me to let go of my own control-freakery. Sometimes it takes me a while to admit that she is right (but she usually is).

If you’re thinking about collaboration, I’d say if you find the right person, go for it. It is hugely rewarding and a fascinating process.

How can Paradise Road Project help other collaborators?

Our Urban Creativity Workshop is going to be a fabulous day, but we also see it as the first step to building an ongoing community of creative individuals who want to achieve great things. Our role will be to provide the support to help them do just that. We want to engage others in creative collaboration by providing opportunities to meet, to explore their own creative projects, and to form new ideas as a result of these meetings.

Our workshop will provide a day of inspiration, imagination and motivation in London’s East End at The Proud Archivist. This restaurant, bar, gallery and library space on the Regent’s Canal is an inspiring venue in which to indulge in delicious food, conversation and boost your creative confidence. We designed the workshop to help others reclaim their time, pursue their passion and get focused on how to achieve it.

Clare and I would love to meet you at the workshop on Saturday 23rd May. There is a 20% (time limited) discount on the workshop for my newsletter subscribers, so do subscribe and contact me for the code if you would like to take advantage of that. You can also follow us on Twitter @paradiseroaders

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions about the event. It’s going to be a special day.

And if you’re looking to begin your own creative collaboration it might be the place to find a perfect partner…



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