First things first: the name.

We borrowed it from Hollywood where it’s a well-known term. To punch it up means to build something up, to make it even better – to help it go the extra mile. And that’s what we do. We use the development of creative talents to help people punch up their professional and personal skills.

First things first: the name.

We borrowed it from Hollywood where it’s a well-known term. To punch it up means to build something up, to make it even better – to help it go the extra mile. And that’s what we do. We use the development of creative talents to help people punch up their professional and personal skills.

We’re interested in creativity and communication in a commercial setting. Or, to put it another way – what happens when you’re doing it for money.

As creative professionals we’ve spent the last few decades offering our imaginations for hire. We know all about the challenges that can arise when you’re developing ideas within the context of commercial relationships. It can be very rewarding but – well, tricky.

And so we set out to explore this complicated territory, to develop workshops that would help people punch up the skills and attitudes needed to flourish in this kind of environment. Workshops that we, as demanding and easily bored professionals ourselves, would find stimulating.

And not just workshops. We work as consultants and devise bespoke training. We work online and in the room. We coach, we direct, and we edit. Sometimes we just sit and listen.

After all these years we have a very big bag of tricks.

We’re also interested in what happens when you're doing it for fun.

For the hell of it. To loosen up your imagination, to become more comfortable with uncertainty, less freaked out by the empty page.

Creative work doesn’t only go on in the office or studio. It’s about personal as well as professional development. It’s confidence building and stress reducing. It can broaden your mind and make you more resilient, better at collaborating, smarter at handling disagreements. In short, it’s life enhancing.

So as well as creative industry businesses, we work with corporate organisations, universities, colleges, and individuals. We offer one-to-one coaching, run online creativity classes, and host residential retreats.

Punch It Up sessions are for grown ups. So, no sticky names badges, no frisbees, minimal use of the flip chart and PowerPoint only where necessary.

The workshops are low tech and highly interactive. We move around, we use pictures and props, we laugh a lot. But we won’t make you feel like you’re back in nursery school. You won't have to pretend to be a tree.

Everyone gets to have a go and put ideas into practice, but nobody is put on the spot in an embarrassing way. Introverts have nothing to fear here. We’ll just ask you to keep an open mind and be interested in what happens.

The exercises we use draw on our experience in improvisation, clowning, storytelling and performance. You could call it cross disciplinary - if it works we use it.

‘I’m known as a negative, cynical bastard, but that was great.’

Creative Detox participant

We can, as far as is possible, promise to punch up craft skills and enhance creative sensitivities. We can encourage spontaneity, demonstrate the power of positive attitude, and help people to collaborate in a way that suits their style.

We can make people better presenters, better listeners, more fluent writers and more confident storytellers. We can help them to recognise the choices they’re making and encourage them to explore alternatives. We can show them how to get rid of the stress that sometimes accompanies creative work. We can give them tools to help them get out of their own way and find their voice.

Punch It Up is run by Mandy Wheeler – writer, director, tutor, and formerly creative director of the award-winning audio production company Mandy Wheeler Sound Productions.

‘I’ve spent decades working in the creative industries, as a producer, director and writer in advertising, design, broadcasting, performance, and publishing. My production company, Mandy Wheeler Sound Productions, picked up an impressive collection of industry awards: D&AD pencils, Sony Radio Awards commendations, that kind of thing. I’ve also won awards for my writing work. In 2022 I received the Scottish Arts Club Short Story Award.

I was a founder member of the D&AD Workout programme, and designed and ran some of their most popular sessions. I’m currently a visiting lecturer at University of Lincoln, Bucks New University, and the London Film School. I’m also a writing and presentation tutor for a number of commercial companies. And I run creative writing workshops in Spain.

For some Punch It Up sessions, I’m joined by Luke Sorba. Luke is an improvisor, a TV and radio comedy writer, and an excellent teacher. We’ve been working together for years. Luke is a Senior Tutor at The Comedy School.'

You’ll find a list of ready-made workshops under each heading below. Make sure you take a look at The Creative Detox. This is our ‘foundation session’. The ideas in here underpin everything we do so it's an ideal place to start your punching up.

For more details about individual sessions and session leaders contact

The Creative Detox

We describe it as a wake-up session for ideas people. And by 'ideas people' we mean anyone who ever has to think.

The Creative Detox contains just about everything we’ve learnt through years of critical observation of our own and others’ creative practice. A mix of games, exercises and chat, it will encourage you reflect on how creative work is generated and developed - what helps the process, and what hinders.

It will help you identify the unspoken rules and assumptions that get in the way of brave thinking, and provide you with tools to keep your imagination firing when the ideas run dry.

This workshop isn’t just about skills, it’s about developing a mindset that welcomes the unexpected and thrives on being in the moment. Whether you work in the creative industries or not, it will broaden your comfort zone and you will surprise yourself. We promise.

If you’re interested in any of our workshops we heartily recommend you start with a Creative Detox.


The Writer's Detox

This is a workshop for anyone who has to write. And who doesn’t?

To be more specific, it’s for anyone who believes that writing like a human, in a way that carries meaning and gives pleasure, might be a smart way of getting ahead of the competition.

Writing is about communication and contact. Whatever the context, it should be clear, confident and engaging. The Writer’s Detox is about dumping bad habits and finding an assured, authentic writing voice. It’s a session of exercises, explanation and discussion, a chance to rummage around in the mechanics of writing and take a look at the elements that create personality on the page.

The Writer’s Detox also provides tricks and techniques. It’ll show you how to draft fast, edit confidently, identify problem areas — and enjoy doing it.


Improv on Paper

When you apply the techniques of improv to writing, interesting things happen.

Your writing frees up, the ideas tumble out, and your voice emerges. It’s an excellent technique for anyone who's ever found themselves blocked or inhibited in their writing, be it fiction, non-fiction or business communication.

This session uses exercises, on and off the page, to introduce you to a practice that gets to the heart of creativity. You’ll learn to work in a way that is spontaneous, light-hearted and unselfconscious; that makes a clear distinction between drafting and editing and puts your inner critic out of a job.

Improv on Paper is run on demand and as an annual residential session at Casa Ana, a retreat centre up in the mountains of Spain. You can read about the residential session here.


Confidence Tricks

Speaking out in front of others can be a stressful experience. This workshop is for people who would rather save their adrenaline for something more worthwhile.

Presence, status, gravitas, whatever you call it, if you think need some more of it, this session is for you. The techniques in this practical session will help you whenever you need to communicate in speech, be it to one person or a hundred.

You’ll learn about status and group dynamics, how to communicate authority using gestures, voice and pacing, how to read the room, take control of the space and build trust. We’ll also talk about speaking up in meetings, the power of listening, and the use of questions. And, of course, there’ll plenty on that old favourite: how to fake it till you make it.


The Practical Info

Our sessions are flexible. Most of them can run for a full day, half a day, a couple of hours or a week. As an introduction, a refresher or an in-depth training session.

They’re available off the shelf or custom built, in-house or off-site. Some sessions can be run online. For in-house sessions we need a bit of space and to be able to make noise without upsetting the neighbours.

If the space is big enough, we can run sessions for larger groups: 60 people in a tent is the current record – we’d rather not break it.

If you want to book us in any other capacity – as copywriters or script doctors, for studio direction, or as consultants – just get in touch. We charge by the day for writing and consultancy; by the hour for script doctor work and directing.


One-to-one Sessions

If you’d rather work one-to-one, that’s fine.

You might want help editing a written piece, rehearsing a presentation, or some general coaching around communication and creative practice. We can work together online or in person. We usually start with a 90 min session, with follow up sessions of an hour each.


Mandy Wheeler on / 07973 835920