Wednesday, 14 September 2016



There has been a lot of new stuff to get my head around recently. We celebrated my mum's landmark Birthday as she entered a new decade; my nephew started school for the first time; I am approaching a whole year in what still feels like a fairly new flat - after all the upheaval of the previous year, I started a new Pilates Class; I have been involved in a brand new project and my work is going in some exciting directions - with a new energy. The world around me too, feels a little new. Sometimes 'newness' feels really good and sometimes it doesn't feel so good. I went to a Brexit event recently - I am not going to use this blog for political discussion but I will say that sometimes it is comforting to have people around you that are on the same page. The flip side however, is handling raw emotion and feelings of helplessness. Nevertheless - we move forward into an unknown, new arena. I am always learning something new in my work - whether it be through the research, or through discussions with my students but it's so exciting to be learning all the time. 

TRY THIS: Write about a time you tried something for the first time. How old were you? Where were you? Who were you with? How did it feel? Describe it in as much detail as possible. Set the clock for 10 minutes, don't stop, don't edit! Enjoy.

The sky's the limit...

The Creative Writes Programme in Muswell Hill, N10 also has new creative writing workshops, to keep us all on our toes! I am excited about the Weekend Workshop,'Treasure Box - Write Your Legacy' on 29th & 30th October 2016 at our glorious venue  in central Muswell Hill. You will be given space to write, dream and reflect. If the weather is still fine, we will be out in the inspiring gardens. Booking is in advance, some places are already taken (we have a maximum of ten in the group). Please see our bookings page on this website:

Our Themed Workshops on Wednesday evenings, Masterclasses and Skype one to ones, are all continuing and further dates for the Blocks of Workshops will be added soon.

I also plan to return to Muswell Hill library for some more free community workshops later this year. I will keep you posted. 

Oh yes, the new Creative Writes flyer is coming soon too, thanks to Adam - one of the two Creative Writes' marvellous volunteers:)

Bye for now, Nichola x

Go on - open the door!

Monday, 22 August 2016


 I've just returned from Lake Como in Northern Italy, which is one of the most beautiful places I have travelled to. Some views of the mountains and lakes are simply 'picture perfect.' In addition to the breathtaking views on full display, there are also quiet, hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. You stumble across a small, forgotten theatre inside an imposing villa. Or you turn into a street soaked in late morning light, unnoticed by many of the tourists -  inviting you in. 

It was a wonderfully sensory experience, fountains crashing around the lake, boats banging together and their horns announcing their arrival into the pier, buskers playing their hearts out - providing the soundtrack to unforgettable moments in time, perfect pasta dishes - simple and fresh, families talking and eating behind closed shutters and doors, an understated style and attention to detail...All held within the city walls.

Sometimes I wrote but other times, I just absorbed it all. It's the kind of experience that takes root, that you know will stay with you and nurture you. When I wrote, I remembered Natalie Goldberg's advice on writing in an unfamiliar place and focussing simply on what's in front of you. This is an extract from one of my short writes: 

"We are back by the pier and there are two men sitting in front of us on a bench and they haven't been talking - not until now when one of then is on the phone. It took me back to when Emma and I were in Bellagio all those years ago. The pace was very slow. It felt more like where are are sitting now...right by the lake."

Try this! When you visit somewhere new - try setting your clock for 10 minutes and write - describe what's in front of you / what you see. It's fine if you jump topics. 

These are the type of experiences that we store in our treasure chests - so that we can open them when we need to. These are the types of experiences that build stories and memories that we want to re-visit. These are the days that make you excited for the future and what is to come but also value every single moment that you are there.

 I tried to disconnect from work when I was away but what I do is so much a part of who I am that it was pretty impossible! I am  excited about continuing to move Creative Writes forward. This Autumn, I will be providing the space for you. You will be able to write your memories, your dreams and share imagined stories. You will be creating your own legacy and making your mark in this world. 

I look forward to seeing you at a Creative Writes Workshop. Take your pick from the following dates - further information on the booking page, All workshops are in central Muswell Hill, North London:

Block of three Wednesdays 7, 14 & 21 September, 7.30-9.30pm.

NEW Weekend Workshop! 'Treasure Box - Write Your Legacy,' 24 & 25 September.

Themed Workshops, Wednesdays 7.30-9.30pm;
5 October- Keys
19 October - Colour As Writing Inspiration
2 November - Myriad of Objects

Skype Workshops & Masterclasses:
Arranged at a time to suit you. One to one Masterclasses for 1 or 2 hours each - Writing Your Legacy. Skype classes are taught in 1 hour slots.

See you soon, Nichola x

Wednesday, 20 July 2016


A Whitstable stone from the weekend

Could this be it, could summer finally have arrived? I thought I would celebrate the sunshine and share my Summer Medley with you...

It's been a busy time and for obvious reasons - rather strange. I won't go into politics here but I have felt that the world has tipped and nothing feels quite right. There has however been positive experiences arise from the chaos - a student who I hadn't seen for a while, got in touch and asked me to help her write her blog post. We had met at the Creative Writes Blogs Etc Workshops about three years ago and with the Referendum/Brexit she she had found the inspiration she was waiting for. It was an honour to work with her on this and here is Meike's published blog post. We will be continuing to work together:

The uncertainty and unsettled feelings around me are present every day at the moment but it has also encouraged me to appreciate those moments of calm and simple pleasures, such as a day trip to the beach with two of my closest friends; the way my nephew makes me laugh and when memories of something he has said pops into my head as I go about my day - a huge smile spreads across my face; Birthday lunches and dinners with family and friends - appreciating each other's company; the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition at the Tate Modern...Here is a quote from this inspiring and versatile artist. I loved the show:
"I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life - and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do." Georgia O'Keeffe

I found a collection of Christina Rossetti's poetry at my dad's house recently so took it home and shared some of the poems with a group I work with regularly in a Care Home , which they really enjoyed. I then returned to the wonderful trunk (below) which is full of more and more surprises each time and I discovered this illustrated Christina Rossetti poem, which I was able to show them today - they loved it. The trunk belonged to Mrs Cecil Chesterton - the founder of Central & Cecil (C&C) housing trust, who I freelance for on a regular basis (I am currently involved in a special Arts Council Funded Project, which will culminate with a site specific performance/installation to celebrate International Older People's Day and C&C's 90th Birthday in the Autumn).

Inspiration has also come my way from the poetry of Raymond Carver  and EE Cummings recently, which my groups have also taken great delight in. Here are some favourite lines/verse:
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
 here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

From EE Cummings - [i carry your heart with me (i carry it in]

Full details and booking here:

Weekly Wednesdays
Block of three Workshops, 7.30-9.30pm; 
7th, 14th & 21st September 2016

The Creative Writes blocks of workshops give you the time and space to build your skills and confidence. Nichola will guide you through a series of fun, fast paced creative writing exercises, covering a range of content. As with all Creative Writes Workshops, we will begin with ourselves - telling our stories and developing our own voice.

September 2016 Weekend: 'Treasure Box - Write Your Legacy'
Saturday 24th September 2-6pm & Sunday 25th September 3-5pm
At the heart of Creative Writes is the belief that writing forms an integral part of your personal legacy. Join us for this brand new weekend of workshops, where you will have the opportunity to create your own treasure box of written memories, hopes and dreams - along with objects and photos which are important to you, if you would like to include these. Nichola will guide you through fast paced writing exercises, which will help you build the material. Further information will be sent on booking. No previous writing experience is needed.

Themed Workshops 2016, 7.30-9.30pm (you can book one, two, or all three!)
As with all Creative Writes Workshops, you will be guided through a series of fast paced writing exercises. No previous creative writing experience is needed. Each Themed Workshop gives you a way in to a different and inspiring world:
5th October - Keys
19th October - Colour As Writing Inspiration
2nd November - Myriad of Objects

Bye for now,

Nichola x

Saturday, 18 June 2016


Please do not disturb! Writing in response to photos from the C&C Archive
During one of my recent workshops, I asked the group - who I have been working with since January, why the weekly writing workshops matter to them? I asked them this because they were talking about how they really didn't like it when they had to miss a week. They said they do everything they can each week to make space in their busy lives.

Here are some of the comments:

"I really look forward to Thursdays. I'm itching to get there. You've got someone who knows more than you do...It's for my general welfare. I love to read and I love to explore. It takes you away from reality, clears your mind.  EL

"It makes you focus on the things you want to focus on - feeling challenged. Having that respite...suddenly transports you somewhere else." MG

Over to you: 
Why does writing matter to you? If you attend creative writing workshops, why do they matter?
Comments welcome on the blog! 

A C&C creative writing workshop in action

Hearing discussions like this and the support that the writers in all of my weekly groups give each-other, makes it all the more worth while. We recently arranged for one of my regular C&C Housing Trust creative writing groups from a sheltered housing scheme for older people, to  visit an art group at another sheltered housing scheme. It was a wonderful morning, as you can see from the pictures below. We had taken both groups to Charleston House to support the work we did on the Bloomsbury group and as a result, they have produced powerful writing and art work. Some of the writing pieces had been sent over to the art group and they had painted in response to them. When the groups met up, they then read the writing and showed the art work which corresponded to the piece. There was such genuine interest and respect. 

Two C&C groups share their work - creative writing & art pieces

When not running workshops, I can be found rummaging through the trunk (below) which is full of incredible letters, books, photographs and treasures yet to be discovered - all of which belonged to Mrs Chesterton the founder of C&C (Central & Cecil Housing Trust). This research forms part of our ACE funded 'My Front Door Project,' which will culminate in a site specific performance at end of September for International Older People's Day. Each time I visit the trunk I find more gems and feel very privileged to spend so much time there.

Mrs Chesterton's Trunk

The regular Creative Writes Workshops in Muswell Hill, N10 started again last week with the new Themed Workshop 'Keys.' It was fantastic to work with such an enthusiastic and focused group of Creative Writes Returners! We looked at poems from Jean Sprackland's Collection 'Sleeping Keys,' which was perfect inspiration. I was also lucky enough to have new keys added to my collection by a kindly locksmith! I will offer this workshop again. 

Here is a cartoon and comment from one of the participants:

"I wonder what door this opens?" Cartoon by Divyam Chaya Bernstein, after the Creative Writes 'Keys' Workshop
"Had a wonderful time last night at the Creative Writes workshop led by the fabulous Nichola Charalambou on the theme of keys!" Divyam Chaya Bernstein


Creating Character Themed Workshop - Wednesday 22nd June, 7.30pm.

Colour As Writing Inspiration - Wednesday 29th June, 7.30pm.

Block of Three July 2016 Creative Writing Workshops from Wednesday 13th July, 7.30pm.

More Creative Writes Workshop dates coming soon! 

All Creative Writes Workshops are in central Muswell Hill, N10. There is a maximum of ten in each group. We give you time and space to write. Workshops are small, supportive, motivational and tailor-made. 

See you soon!

Nichola x

Friday, 20 May 2016


The view of Chester Town Centre from the Roman City Walls


This month has been all about research and new discoveries...from a weekend exploring Chester and attending the Lapidus National Conference (Lapidus is the Writing for Wellbeing Organisation that Creative Writes is a Professional Member of:, a visit to the V&A Archives with my C&C colleague & creative writing group from a sheltered housing scheme (photos below) and a moving visit to the V&A Museum of Childhood with the Women's Creative Writing Group I teach, to see the exhibition 'On Their Own':

C&C Creative Writing Group learning the history of 1920's garments
Victorian staircase - V&A Archives
This shoe holds many stories
Glorious Liberty cloak
Folding top hat for the opera

The visit to the V&A Archives was part of an exciting new project funded by the Arts Council, which I am involved with for C&C'My Front Door,' which will focus on the founder and other key figures in the social housing provider's 90 year history. I will be blogging more about this project.

I have been humbled by the stories collected and imagined - faced with objects now faded from wear and love, some of which meant so much to the owner, such as the miniature house below at the Museum of Childhood exhibition; 

"Every night she fell asleep clutching her little house and dreaming of a proper family."
Precious miniature objects belonging to a child migrant, who was sent to Australia from England
I have started to use some of these finding in my workshops. 

Try This! Visit an exhibition and focus on an object from the collection. Carry on its story...tell its journey and that of its owner.

The programme of workshops I am currently delivering include the new block of 6 workshops at Mayfair Library, my regular Read Aloud Poetry Workshops and Creative Writing Workshops in Sheltered housing, Supported housing and Care homes for C&C, weekly workshops in Angel, Battersea and Kew and my regular Creative Writes Workshops in Muswell Hill, N10. I also have some new one to one Masterclasses and Skype sessions, which are great fun!

I am delighted to announce the Creative Writes Summer 2016 Workshop Programme! All workshops are in central Muswell Hill, London, N10.

The programme includes a brand new themed workshop 'Keys,' the return of favourite Themed Workshops and a block of three Wednesdays. Take a look and book here: 

Monday, 18 April 2016


The Creative Writes video tells our story 

Hello & welcome!

The whirlwind of activity has continued to spin around the Creative Writes core! We had a wonderful set of five creative writing workshops at our headquarters in Muswell Hill, N10. The group formed a bond and we covered a range of material, while I guided the group through a series of fast paced free flow writes. As always, there was no critique on the writing and the group said that this was an important element in freeing them up to develop their voice and writing style.

In addition to my regular workshops in North London, I travel around a fair amount for the different projects & workshops I run as a freelancer for different organisations.  I have recently run a series of workshops along the theme Around The Kitchen Table for C&C Housing Trust (Central & Cecil), working mainly in their Care Homes. I took along poetry, anecdotes and images to trigger discussion and memories. It has been great fun collecting anecdotes from friends and family too! 

Here is one of the powerful poems we read in the sessions:

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.
We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.
It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.
At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.
Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.
This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.
Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.
We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.
At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.
Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Spending some time with the swans in Windsor when there for 'Around The Kitchen Table'

'Around The Kitchen Table' Workshop in South London
Next Workshops are our Creative Writes Themed Creating Character this Wednesday 20th April 2016 and then Myriad of Objects and Colour As Writing Inspiration (all on Wednesday evenings). This is followed by our Block of Three Workshops on Wednesdays 11, 18th & 25th May 2016. All Creative Writes Workshops are in central Muswell Hill, N10. Full details here:

Wednesday, 30 March 2016


Watch the Creative Writes Video below  - find out what we do and hear from our participants:

Spring blossom

Hello, I hope this finds you well,

With the start of a new season, there is a new light. And with the new light, we start to see clearer. We start to see what it is we want to do, say and write. I have sensed a renewed writing energy in  the Creative Writes workshops, an impenetrable wall of concentration and focus, The only sound I can hear is that of the writers' pens and pencils scratching at high speed across the page.

Is there something that has become clearer to you now that the light has changed? What is it that you really want to say? Set your clock for ten minutes and go! 

Sun fighting through today

We are four weeks in to our five week block of Creative Writes Workshops at the lovely North Bank House in Muswell Hill, North London, N10. We have shared stories, laughter and reflection through the writing. Every workshop, there is a reminder of how privileged I am to witness the courage and creativity of my participants.

Spike Milligan statue in the park, North London
I have been running Creative Writes since 2009 and this year, this season- I feel a shift. The business has reached a different stage and I have never been happier. There are exciting plans ahead -  both at home and away. 

Next workshops are our Creative Writes Themed Creating Character, Myriad of Objects and Colour As Writing Inspiration Workshops on Wednesday evenings. This is followed by our Block of Three Workshops on Wednesdays 11, 18th & 25th May. All Creative Writes Workshops are in central Muswell Hill, N10.

The Muswell Hill workshops will always be at the heart of my work and you can see our new Spring 2016 programme here:

Thanks for reading.

I look forward to seeing you soon!

Nichola x