In praise of projects

What makes 26 different? Our purpose, our network, our events. Our projects.

For me – I speak as one of the founders – it’s the projects that really set 26 apart from any other writing organisation. And this dates back to the very first year when we partnered with the International Society of Typographic Designers to create an exhibition and a book, 26 Letters, at the British Library.

So it has continued, with 26 partnering with wonderful organisations such as the V&A and the National Museum of Scotland. In each case – there have now been more than 30 projects – members of 26 have produced writing that has stretched them creatively and developed them personally. Hundreds of members have participated in projects. It’s one of the unique benefits of 26 membership.

This year we have been focused on one big project, our biggest ever. Partnering with Imperial War Museums, 100 of our writers are researching people alive at the time of the First World War – then writing a centena, exactly 100 words. The subjects could be public figures or family members. The results will be posted daily from early August and, we hope, published in a book. The writers cover all areas of the UK – and many other countries including USA, Canada, India, South Africa, Jamaica, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and Germany.

That is very ambitious. Not all 26 projects need to be of that scale. Last year we did a very successful pop-up project ‘Every object tells a story’. Other projects have been based on a northern train journey and postcode locations around the country.

We’re committed to running projects. But we want projects that reflect members’ own interests and locations. Partnership with other organisations is helpful and amplifies the interest but is not a requirement. The vital thing is to have a good idea.

We’d love to hear your ideas for new projects – and these could be regional, national or international. Taking part in a project is a creative challenge. Running a project is a challenge that has individual and social benefits, putting you in collaboration with other writers. It’s also great fun.

So if you have a burning idea, or even one that is just simmering, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.


John Simmons


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