Up Close With: Beth Collier
Meet the wonderful writers and patrons behind LWS.
If you’re prone to watching the intentions fly in at the beginning of a writers hour session, you’ve probably had your eye caught by this week’s featured volunteer host at some point. Beth Collier is a London-based Midwesterner (by way of New Zealand), and she’s obsessed with creativity, communication and pop culture. Like, obsessed. She researches the stories behind the icons, the ideas and the products that we know and love and collates them in her newsletter, Curious Minds. Beth started out working behind the scenes in Hollywood before spending 15 years leading corporate communications for big banks in London. Now she helps corporate leaders improve their public speaking, writing, and storytelling skills — no mean feat!— and runs workshops for teams to strengthen their creativity and communication skills. This week, we discover all things Beth.
- Based in London, UK
- Volunteer host for LWS writers hours
What do you write?
I write about things I am curious about — like why Van Halen insisted on no brown M&M’s when they were on tour, or how incubators for babies used to be a sideshow attraction, or about inspiring people whose stories aren’t as well-known, like Verna Fields or Melissa Ludtke. I share non-fiction stories each week that highlight the power of curiosity and creativity — with a lot of inspiration from pop culture.
What are you working on right now?
Today I’m researching the story of the Night Witches, who were an incredible group of female pilots during World War II. Their story is fascinating, and I can’t wait for others to learn about it.
I’m also analysing a research paper about women and humour (in the workplace) for an upcoming article I want to write.
Where and when do you write?
I write (mostly) in my office, during Writers’ Hour and later in the day (when I tend to get more inspired).
How do you write?
I do a lot of research, and then I start typing. Then I edit. And edit some more. And some more.
Why do you write?
I have loved writing since I won Mrs. Shirk’s “Story of the Week” contest in the 3rd grade. She made me believe I was good at it — and encouraged me.
I love writing because, for me, putting together a piece is like solving a puzzle. I can be frustrated one moment and then feel incredibly fulfilled the next moment when I’ve figured it out.
What inspires your creativity?
Traveling. Learning. Meeting people.
What’s your favourite book?
I’ve got shelves full of books I love, but the first book I remember loving as a kid was ‘Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel’ by Virginia Lee Burton. I like this story because it is about friendship, loyalty, and creative problem solving. It was written in 1939, but its themes are still relevant today. It gives me great joy that my son loves this story, too. (Though Mike no longer smokes a pipe in the 2020 version!)
What’s the best advice you’ve received about creativity?
I do a lot of work with creativity and corporate clients (helping them ignite and strengthen their creativity), so have been researching creativity for years. The biggest “a-ha” for me with creativity was understanding what it’s really about. I went from working in TV and film in LA to banking in London. I still felt like a creative person, but I was no longer viewed as ‘creative’ because of my industry — and creativity wasn’t a skill that was discussed as key to the industry or my job. But I learned that everyone needs creativity, and I want everyone to know that they are creative. It’s a skill, and one you can strengthen with practice.
What’s the one thing you would tell other/aspiring writers?
Don’t compare yourself to other writers. Write what you excites you — and run your own race.
How can we discover more about you and your work?
- My newsletter on Substack
- My website
- Connect with me on LinkedIn