A new term for The Citizen Collective

As we look ahead to a new term of sessions with The Citizen Collective, we reflect on a few highlights from the past year.
Podcast recording session with The Citizen Collective at EHFM

The Citizen Collective is one of our longest running creative writing groups, which began in late 2020 at the height of lockdown. Each term, we reach out to schools and colleges across Edinburgh and the Lothians to invite keen writers to join us. Our latest term has only just begun, and we are delighted to be welcoming new members from schools including St Thomas of Aquin’s, Queensferry High School, Leith Academy, Drummond Community High School, and welcoming a number of returners who have been writing with us for over a year.

The Collective is a group which encourages participants to build their writing skills, find their voice, explore self-expression and learn about different creative writing tools and techniques. Members receive feedback on their work, explore themes of citizenship and, through meeting online each week, build connections with a community of local writers. It’s a chance for those who want to do something creative out of school hours, to help them build up their confidence in a fun and safe environment.

To celebrate the start of the new term, we thought we would reflect on a few highlights of the year so far.

Zine making creative chaos

While The Citizen Collective meets each week online, it’s also important to us that there are chances for this group of like-minded young writers to gather in-person. To that end, each term we build in the chance for an in-person workshop, fuelled by copious pizza and fizzy juice. Earlier this year, Ryan van Winkle, our Schools Writer in Residence and the Collective’s creative facilitator, led a lightening-fast workshop on ’zine making. This fast-paced making encourages the young people not to get weighed down by perfectionism, and to think creatively when met with a blank page. The resulting publication, Kicking The Bucket List, combined collage techniques with nonsense poetry, humour and listicles in a hilarious and delightfully scrappy production you can explore here.


Ryan and the Collective posing with their zines

Guest stars on EHFM

The Citizen Collective were delighted to have been invited to feature on a special episode of Feeling My Shelf, a literary talk show on Edinburgh community radio station EHFM which spotlights the Scottish literary scene. Radio show hosts Josh and Max interviewed each of the young writers about their reading habits and their love of writing, and then invited them to share their own work. You can catch up with that episode here.

Iman and Max recording the EHFM podcast

At Edinburgh International Book Festival

We were thrilled to bring the Collective together in-person at the August Book Festival this year, and arranged a special programme of engagement for them, which included workshops, free tickets to events and the chance to meet legendary US-based authors of Young Adult fiction, Kalynn Byron and Renée Watson. Each term, The Citizen Collective works towards a final goal to showcase their work, and last term culminated in a performance at the Book Festival’s unique showcase event, Stories And Scran. If you missed out on joining us this August, you can catch up on that performance here.


The Citizen Collective meeting authors

Recently we asked The Citizen Collective members what they would say to someone thinking about joining up, and they responded: “If you are at all interested in writing, this is a great outlet to get prompts, hear other people’s work and get into some events” and another member said “you will learn to love your art”. Reflecting on the overall experience, one Citizen Collective writer said that the experience helped them to grow as a person, which goes right to the heart of the aims of the project.

While this week there is no session, we begin again after the October break, with weekly online meet-ups from 26 October right up until the end of November. To conclude the term, there will be a chance for Collective members to read and perform their work alongside professional writers at our Citizen Winter Warmer festival on 1-3 December. We also hope to bring the Collective together with the third year illustration students at Edinburgh College of Art, to produce a publication which combines art, short stories and poetry.

Spread the word

If you are a young writer from Edinburgh or the Lothians and are interested in joining The Citizen Collective, email Genevieve.Fay@edbookfest.co.uk to find out how you can get involved. Sessions are on Zoom, facilitated by Ryan Van Winkle, our Schools Writer in Residence.


The Citizen Collective is part of Citizen, our flagship communities project which is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and through the PLACE Programme (funded by the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council, and the Edinburgh Festivals, and supported and administered by Creative Scotland).

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