Have you ever started a novel but never finished? Written some poetry that’s hidden away in a drawer, far from public view? Perhaps you’re too shy to share that story you wrote in your spare time?
Over the last year, I’ve made the surprising discovery that a lot of my friends share my passion for creative writing. Some of them have an amazing talent that I was completely unaware of, despite knowing them for years! In one case, more than 20 years!
And I’ve witnessed something else. When one person has found the courage to share a poem they’ve written on Facebook, other friends have followed suit. And, of course, when people respond positively to that first piece of poetry, that first short story, then the writer is encouraged to have another go, and develop their skills further.
Like singing perhaps, the ability to write creatively is a talent that is often hidden behind closed doors.
I think that’s a shame. So, I decided that with the help of my amazing friends and colleagues, Lee and Craig, we could do something about it. Over the last few months, we’ve been busy behind the scenes creating Pen48, a new social space dedicated to short, sharp creative writing. (In fairness, Lee has done most of the actual work.)
Pen48, which we’ve launched today with a Spring-themed competition, is designed to create a safe environment where authors can explore and develop their talent. And where those who just enjoy reading new creative writing can discover previously hidden talent. Perhaps, as I have, amongst their friends.
We’re working hard to make it a space that’s free of the trolls and negativity that pollute so much social media too, with a clear code of conduct and a feedback process that is focused towards positive reinforcement and encouragement. And we’ve even created mechanisms for authors to potentially earn money for their creations from appreciative readers or raise money for charity.
You can keep up to date on all that’s happening at Pen48 on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram.
Ok, but what has this got to do with our day-to-day roles as trainers?
Well, firstly, creative writing develops skills that are genuinely useful in business. Creativity is, after all, ranked as the most in-demand skill in business. And this sort of expressive activity can also help with other really important skills, like emotional intelligence, the ability to manage stress (especially important at the moment) and the ability to influence. Not to mention of course, the ability to structure and use language effectively.
And secondly, this project is perhaps a reminder that we should all be asking ourselves:
What skills lie hidden from sight within our organisations?
What could we do to discover and raise awareness of those skills?
What could people achieve if they were given a safe space in which to experiment with new skills?