Do you have an inner critic that stands in the way of something you want to achieve?
Today one of my writing group members wrote that he had got to day 10 of reflecting and had written inconsequential fluff.
I smiled, his inner critic was certainly hard at work and not in a helpful way.
What happens is sometimes when we try to write our head gets in the way of our hearts. We lose the connection to our muse.
The great thing for me is that we are at least writing. Getting past the inner critic and discovering one’s muse can take time.
I want to know what my inner critic wants to hide from me
When things pop up or feel like they are standing in your way it is often a sign that you are being asked to step out of your comfort zone and explore what it coming up.
I believe it means that you are on the right track. It’s how you deal with this experience which is important.
The inner critic is you and me. I know that. I know that whatever I am feeling, that unfathomable ache that keeps us trapped, is something that needs to be allowed to surface.
I can remember winning a competition at school, but the winning wasn’t fun. I stood on the stage to receive my prize – a packet of colouring pens. I didn’t see or hear the audience clapping, I simply felt a fraud, because why did I deserve these congratulations?
I’d heard a teacher tell my dad that I would never be good enough to go to University. That damning statement stayed with me and it hurt for many years.
However, I did go to university and I did rather well. I didn’t follow a traditional route, I was expelled from school and didn’t do my MBA until I was in my early 30’s. And that is perfect.
The early setbacks and this inner critic stopped me sharing my writing for many years. I could write in a journal, and I could write copy for work, but ask me to share other things that was a big no no.
This is a long ago memory and long ago feelings. I have written my way through a lot of hard stuff and grown as a person. But none the less there is sometimes an inner critic standing in the way of my writing.
Our memories and experiences have a habit of standing in the way of our writing. It’s learning how to see the experience through new eyes.
I have learned to push through, that this resistance is a message that this ‘stuff’ needs to be dealt with and dealt with now. These days I embrace exploring these inner depths and stories because I know that I will love the outcome. I will once I have let go of what needs to escape.
Journaling is a great way to start, even if it comes from the head. Congratulate yourself that you did write something and allow your writing to grow.
When it comes to writing for the world that the inner critic can stand in the way of your writing.
This is labelled writer’s block. Writers block
I have learned that not everyone will love what you write, and why should they?
Perfectionism is procrastination in another guise.
What I also know that if I don’t get it out there, then I won’t get feedback and without that, I won’t grow – and neither will you. I make myself focus on one thing, and no matter how boring I find some of this stuff, it helps me get things done.
I thank my inner critic for nudging me because that reminds me that I am on the right track and can now take action to overcome those irritations that have stood in my way.
I invite my inner critic to sit and write with me.
‘Shall we have some fun?’ I ask.
My thought process is that if I can embrace and feel into the inner critic then I can make progress.
I’ve grown a bit of a tough skin over the years and learned the art of feeling the fear (excitement) and doing it anyway.
It’s time for some honest reflection.
I don’t know what stands in the way of your writing. If you have a mischievous inner child, a belligerent inner critic or some other inner belief that needs dealing with before you feel confident to write.
I have found that over many years of journaling which I call Writing to Heal that my confidence has grown and my layers peeled away. It hasn’t always been pretty, but it has always been rewarding.
My invitation is that if the thought of writing from your soul is a little scary then start with something like my 101 days journaling adventure. Over 101 days you will be sent quotes, some food for thought, an affirmation and an invitation to explore. It’s a start, isn’t it?
So… someone had told you to write a book. They tell you that you have a great story or that thing that you have been through would make a good book. You love memoirs, you adore non-fiction how to and oh my goodness anything to do with insert your specialist subject brings you alive.
There is a stack of books by your bed, no you have a stack of books everywhere and you read voraciously. You love to learn, to be inspired and you want to write like your favourite authors, only in your voice.
The temptation of becoming an author is calling you. This could be a big turning point. You could make money and do lots of other things on your bucket list when this book sells. Of course, it will sell because so many people have told you to write a book.
I am sure that your story is interesting and would make a great book, but there is far more to books than just writing it.
One of the reasons that I love to write is because it is cathartic. I have written many memoirs which have served me well because they have helped me to heal and that in my book is a fantastic reason to write. However, these are not books to sell. Well they are but not in the format that they are in.
When it comes to the right book to write there are many factors to explore. Not least knowing who your ideal reader is because they will want to buy a book because of the outcome they get. And no it is not you (I talk about why you are not your ideal reader here).
That outcome could be pure entertainment. I read novels for entertainment. Memoirs are wonderful because they open my eyes and allow me to enter someone else’s life. You can learn a lot from what others have experienced whether real (memoir, non-fiction) or imagined (novel).
All kinds of books speak to the journaler in me and as I am reading, I am writing, reflecting, learning, exploring and being inspired. These increase my knowledge and in turn I increase my understanding and wisdom.
Ok, let’s get back to the point, the all important reasons why you shouldn’t write a book and how to reframe.
Let’s go back to where we started. Lots of people tell me I should write a book as I have a great story. So how many
With a some focused research, you could find that you have a book idea that could build your brand and business.
For me, it’s how we tell the story, what else goes into the book and how we build a brand around your story. It’s also about what else can you use your book for? Books are brilliant for gaining clarity and creating a product roadmap around.
Reframe your goal to my story written in the right way will impact lives and enable me to make a difference in the world. By identifying my ideal reader and what they need this book and the other products and services I create leave a great impression and generate more income.
Which leads me nicely onto to money.
Money. I have a friend who has written a novel, the genre of the book is not important and he believes that it will make him lots of money because a few friends have said it’s a great story. When questioned about how he intended to get his book into the hands of all of these people who were going to make him rich he had no idea.
He is not alone. There is far more to this business of writing books than writing it and expecting people to line up with cash in hand.
Your book needs to be good and your marketing brilliant (we’ll come to marketing in later blogs). However, don’t be put off because having a book will raise your visibility and credibility. You can earn more money from using this book as part of a fuller product portfolio and creating a business around it. Your book will lead your ideal customers to you so that you can support them in other ways.
Reframe your goal to my book is supporting me to generate income for my business. By writing the right book for my ideal reader and being clear about why I am writing it and having the best plan in place, I am raising my visibility and credibility. I have created and implemented my book marketing plan early. All of which has enabled me to profit from my book.
As an aside here’s a list of bestselling books https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_books. It’s an interesting list and could prove useful in your research. What stands out when you look at it? Yes there are a lot of novels, but look closely at the non-fiction titles -what does this tell you about what people need and want?
You want to be famous. What is famous and what degree of fame would you like? How does famous fit with the dream you have for your life? Are you ready to accept what fame might mean?
Whenever I hear the word famous I am reminded of the Bros song – when will I be famous? And as they sang – I can’t answer that.
There aren’t that many people who make a living being an author and when they do it’s because they are doing a brilliant job of writing books that their ideal reader wants to read and yes they have built up a following. This is a job like any other, in that you have to do the work, but it just looks more glamorous, like being a singer or an actor.
Very likely when you think of famous authors, you think of JK Rowling, Steven King, James Patterson, Paul Coelho springs to mind and a whole host of possibly dead authors. This list talks a little about their story https://www.careeraddict.com/richest-authors don’t be put off that it’s mostly fiction writers.
There are many other proflific non-fiction writers to take inspiration from. Deepak Chopra must have written over 80 books and has a thriving business built around his philosophy. Chicken Soup for the Soul is about changing the world one book at a time. You can do that in your world.
A book that I adored working on is Motivate Yourself by Andro Donovan. Andro is one of the most ‘motivating’ as you would expect, women I have ever met. Andro found me via recommendation. I felt blessed that she chose to work with me because her book challenged and changed me as it unfolded.
In her world Andro is a highly respected and sought after personal leadership coach. She inspires others with her book, but after that it is down to what else she delivers.
Often it’s the other way around and people are usually famous before they write books and then because they are famous their book sells.
A word of caution, do not commit the crime of the century or marry a weird president, that’s all I can
Another sobering note is that even if you hit whatever bestseller list in on your vision board, this does not guarantee you fame. You still have to run your book as a business and deliver value to your ideal client. A book is an investment not a quick route to fame.
That’s the doom and gloom over and out of the way and the reality is that it is not really doom and gloom, it’s more of a reality check.
What I would love is that everyone who wants to write a book and share their story, knowledge, skills and experience does it for good reasons and understands what their book will contribute to their life and business.
Additionally, they know how their book will help them to make a difference in the world.
Please write a book.
Reframe your goal to I want to make an impact in the world with my book or books. By writing the right book for the right reasons I will have fame because I will be more visible to the people whose lives I want to impact.
It will help other people to know that if it is possible for me, it’s possible for them
I want to become known as an authority in the area of x and this will raise my visibility and credibility
I want to build a business around my book idea
The cause that I support needs a book like this to raise the publics awareness
I want to switch careers and a book will help me to do that while I am still in employment
Be honest with yourself. There are no right or wrong answers. My belief is that if you want to write then write. However, if you want your book to help you to raise your visibility and credibility and use it to build a brand and a business around, get clear on which is the right book for right now.
Although you have a desire to write a book, you just may not be ready and that is fine too. Get yourself into the habit of daily writing by writing in a journal. You can join 101 days of being me to kickstart the process. I’ll hopefully see you in Writing for the Soul.
Chatting costs nothing and having a sounding board is great when you head is in a mush about which way to go. Book yourself in here.
My motto is come to be inspired and leave inspiring others.
When writing a memoir there are so many ways to find inspiration. The question for me is never what is the point of writing them, it’s always let’s get the memories out and enjoy the process. You can work out where they fit later.
Music is a wonderful way to evoke memories for your memoir, whether that is using music to stimulate or calm you or the piece brings a memory back.
When I am writing, my environment is key. I like
There have been times when I have needed or wanted music and I find that these are usually deeply emotional times. The call for music arises and I need for some reason to lose myself in the words. I can often be found crying or at least feeling like crying. I love a film with a happy ending so stories of all kinds get me – every time.
Music has the power to take you on amazing trips, along lanes, roads, highways and byways to destinations once lived and now forgotten.
As a child, I recall sitting in class and my teacher played music from the Grand Canyon suite, in the far right corner of the room were pictures of the Grand Canyon and we were invited to write stories about what we saw, felt and heard. I don’t know what I wrote, but
One Christmas we went to Las Vegas for a relatives 60th birthday and on Christmas Day I flew over the Grand Canyon in an epic and exhilarating helicopter flight with music blaring.
The music this time was more rock than classic all designed to fire up our emotions and connect us to the movement of the helicopter, the vast ocean of red rock, floors of bobbly green brush and striated skies of turquoise and pale blue.
It was exhilarating and this scared of flying gal begged the pilot to go faster, such
wasthe power of the music.
If I was including this in a memoir, it would probably be cited as an exhilarating but personally hurtful time for me. The person I was with did something I consider to be cruel, but as it turns out a blessing.
When you write memoir how can you weave in moments like this while staying with the essence of your story? These backstory elements provide your reader with insight into how your story was formed.
All of us have multi-faceted lives with many crisscrossing journeys and my party days hide my sadness. When I refer to someone’s sex, drug and rock and roll days, I’m normally talking about those days when we feel less connected to who we are. The party and the music help you to lose yourself and hide from reality.
I had the most gorgeous friend and DJ Leroy, who would play my favourite songs – he would know, it was always Wonderland first, then during the night Whole Lotta Rosie, Come Up and See Me and Carwash. Each of these
Sadly Leroy didn’t want to stay on Earth.
At his funeral, which was dreadfully sad they played Imagine. In my memory, he is forever Wonderland and
Silly songs like Haircut One Hundred – Fantastic day remind me of my first husband. He thought it was hilarious to come back into the bedroom to find me lying in bed still but somehow dancing to this.
Even long after I listened endlessly to Elbow, most days I throw the curtains wide
“So throw those curtains wide
One day like this a year would see me right
Throw those curtains wide
One day like this a year would see me right”
Last night I took my mum to see a Dire Straits tribute band. Spanish singers who created an incredible evocative scene with haunting notes had us transfixed for over 2 hours.
I’ve been taking my mum to concerts for just a year. I want to create memories for us both. I want to etch these precious moments and experiences deep into my heart.
As they played I closed my eyes and was back at the NEC in Birmingham seeing them for the first time. It was a time when not a week went by when I wasn’t at a concert or planning to go and see a band. Music was a massive part of my life.
Listening last night makes me feel like my life is missing something because of the desire for silence.
When I trace the disappearance of music from my life, I can see how it had been shut down and switched off by another. This part of my life is something I am writing about and last night has woken a memory for me to explore in my personal memoir.
That’s what music does.
If you are looking for inspiration for your memoir or want to be taken back to another time period in whatever book you are writing, compile a
Be inspired, have a beautiful day and capture your memories.
There are many benefits to creating a book outline, but before you do decide to plan it and reap those benefits – don’t outline your book…
When it comes to planning a book outline there are two schools of thought. One is to just pants it and it will emerge and the other is to outline it so that it makes writing easier.
I’m a planner and I like to make my life easier. When it comes to writing a book I need to outline it first and I have a tried and tested process that I adapt depending on my clients learning type and preferences. You have to make processes work for you, not squeeze yourself into something that you will eventually reject.
Pick a book idea that has been buzzing around your head and write the first two chapters. Or write as much as you can just off the top of your head. When you have done that look at how far you have come and what needs to happen next.
Chances are you are stuck and nothing is flowing. But you do have a body of work which is great or is it? I always think that nothing is wasted so it’s good that you got it out.
Before I go on this is very much aimed at non-fiction writers because I know a lot of fiction writers who do indeed pants their books and it works for them. I tried it for fiction and it doesn’t work for me. What does work though for fiction is start by pantsing and then open up Snowflake and plan the
When it comes to non-fiction for me, I need a timeline, and to follow my process for getting it out of my head so that I look at it from many angles. I like it chunked down so that writing is easier. I also need my ideal reader profile in the front of my mind.
I am curious to know how writing your book without an outline went? Did you write what you expected and are you pleased with it. Do you know where it is going next and who will enjoy reading it?
So. the smartypants ones among you for who this worked, I am pleased because now you have a first draft that you can edit and bring alive so that it fulfils its purpose. You probably will edit it quite a bit once you have done your research and identified your ideal reader. But it is easier now that have a body of work to edit.
For everyone else who tried to pants it and ended up lost and with no hair please outline your book before you go any further.
You can still be spontaneous and change your mind, you simply amend the outline and reflow everything. And finally, in case you didn’t know everyone outlines even the
Book in for a call and let’s explore.Schedule Appointment
When it comes to writing a book, good books don’t just happen, they are designed or should I say outlined?
Outlining chapters give us a clear structure, a pathway from one chapter to the next and
Once you are clear about your outline, then it’s discovering how to create the perfect chapter framework and finally pulling it all together with a book proposal (aka the marketing plan).
Great, that’s the theory sorted, but what if you have outlined your book and are now stuck, stuck, stuck?
When you stop writing and so something else inspiration and clarity usually comes. It may arriving while you are at the till of your favourite supermarket or while walking the dogs. You just need space.
You will hear me say this a lot. You need to make sure it is the right book. If not with the best will in the world you will not be motivated to write it. Go through the process of checking in with your heart, then gut and finally your head.
If your heart book makes sense and you know why you are writing it then you will find the time and motivation to write it.
Go back and outline your book as if this were the first time. You need to be absolutely clear that this is what you want to write about. Start with a free flow chapter ideas brainstorm, then mind map it and finally write a synopsis. How does this compare with what you are writing? How can you now sort it out?
I’d look at my ideal reader, why I am writing, what outcome I want for my reader and how it fits with my brand and business. In other words do the book planning basics again.
As subject matter experts we often try and cram too much in. Nooooo. Readers today have the attention span of a gnat and what they want and often need is to be able to consume something that provides a quick solution to a pressing problem.
Have you written too much? Can you break it down into smaller chunks?
If you see writing a book as a huge almost unmanageable process and project chances are you will feel disheartened. Break it up into smaller chunks and tackle each part like a mini project. Set achieveable milestones and reward yourself for meeting your targets.
A book series is a brilliant way to stay in your readers mind and on their radar. Take your subject and break it down into chunks as you did above. Every chunk has a process, a learning point and an outcome. When you have done this re outline book 1 and 2 so that you can see the flow. Now break book 1 down into chunks and write.
Hopefully, there is an idea in here that will help you with writing a book that you feel stuck on. The real key is to step away from the project, maybe work with a book coach, talk it through and allow your unconscious mind to support this process.
When it comes to writing a book you can make it easier for yourself by taking breaks, reflecting in your journal and talking to someone else.
Book in for a call and let’s explore.Schedule Appointment
Are you writing a book? Want to write a book? Like the idea of writing a book but have no idea which one to exploit?
I get it I truly do. I have written 100’s of 1000’s of words over the years. Some I have published, many I have shaped into books, and they now languish like a dastardly rotter on my hard drive, and some are crashing into my brain screaming write me.
But there are only so many hours in a day, and it is deciding well which one SHOULD I write?
Which one should I write? Which book does my head want me to write? More importantly, which one does my heart want to write and which is the right one for right now?
Whenever I talk about writing a book for right now, it means two things.
One: There will be a book that needs to be written that is from your heart, which will be healing and cathartic. This book you may publish later, but right now you need to write it.
Two: Your right now book is a book that you right that aligns with your brand and business and is about something you may be known for, and you also want to be known for.
One is a book that may become a two, and you’ll see why soon.
There is a school of thought that when it comes to writing a book you do some research, find a gap and exploit it. So if there is a gap in the market for books on bats for children aged 11-15 then write it regardless of your business or where you find yourself in life. This has (allegedly) proved useful for people selling this system of writing a book.
Then, of course, you may have a publisher who through extensive research spots a gap, and this becomes your next book.
However, I am talking about writing a book that is written from your heart that will become aligned with your brand and business. This book is one that will excite and inspire your readers to know that if it is possible for you, it is possible for them.
The best way that I can tell you this is to describe my journey. Or at least part of my journey.
I’m a long term journaler, and writing has saved my life on more than one occasion.
Some years ago I had a massive awakening, I’ve had a few, but this one changed the direction of my life completely. I wrote a book I called Rude Awakenings – a journey to self-love. At the same time, I created an e-book and course. I needed to do all of these things together because I was in effect teaching and coaching myself. As I created the course, I did the work in the course and wrote the book. This works for me as a method of healing and creation.
I then sat back and thought what on earth did I do that for – it has nothing to do with writing a book or journaling.
My mission is about inspiring others to write and to heal through writing. I always suggest that you start with a journal and then write your book – whatever kind of book this is.
When the proof book came, I was excited to read it but less than motivated to edit it. Something felt off key and as I couldn’t put my finger on what, so I popped the book in the cupboard and waited for divine inspiration and timing.
What happened next was another big awakening – my spine fractured and I spent the best part of a year in rehabilitation and healing. After four days of lying looking at the ceiling in agony I went and found a journal, and a few weeks later I started writing a book. I need to support my healing.
This, it transpires, has been the hardest book I have written, because there is so much nutritional and scientific stuff I had to read and learn at the same time. But hey it helped me heal, so that’s good, right? I stopped writing and editing as I needed a break, I set a publication date (Oct 14th) and took a breather.
Or so I thought.
Once I had put healing osteoporosis naturally to one side, I started to look at my business and how I could simplify it and re-align everything again. Being ill scatters your energy when you have some somewhat.
I checked in with my heart to find out what to do next. When I looked at my existing books, they looked tired, so I put new covers on and edited them. I realised that Writing to Heal must become a series of books. But I pondered what subjects could I write around? What would be the most relevant?
It struck me while I was journaling on my 101 days of being me, journaling adventure that this is what I have been creating. Sometimes I could kick myself for not seeing the obvious.
I was also struck by the way in which I have been writing books. Each one has seemed at the time to be the right book.
They were the right book because they were cathartic to write. I, however, could not have published them like this as they did not fit with my brand and were not aligned with anything.
They had a purpose, and the purpose was healing. Now that I can look at the journey as that, a journey, each one makes more sense as I move forward.
Rude Awakenings, for example, will become Writing to Heal a Journey to Self-love. I also have Tapping into your Divine Inner Wisdom and The Healing Process. Each of these is a part of my Writing to Heal series.
As luck would have it, I have 100’s of 1000’s of words already written – sometimes keeping old stuff is a wise move. Ok, not necessarily laid out in the right chunks but there none the less available to be repurposed.
My invitation to you is to look at journeys you have taken and the words you have written. These can be in your journal, a blog or a series of chapters that you thought might become a book.
Do nothing with them other than to acknowledge that you have content which you could repurpose.
Ask a few questions:
When you get some clarity around these, you can start to think how a book fits with this and why you would even write one.
It is only through introspection and allowing what needs to come in the spaces will you find your answers. It takes a while to plan, write, edit and publish a book, so it does need to be the right book.
Perhaps like me, you write it to heal and let it sit on your hard drive waiting to be birthed or maybe you know that you want to write and publish this year. Either way, it’s your right way and right book.
Never beat yourself up that you have written loads and you can’t think where or how to use it, that will come.
Take yourself on a journey and see what arises.
I invite you to become creative and consider what else you can create around your book? What products and services can come from the book?
Your book is not a business calling card it is a business asset.
Even if you can’t think which book or how to get it written, know that because you have set your intention, it will come. Remember some books are meant to evolve with you.
My hope is that you feel inspired to go back and look at what you have and ask the question – is it time for this book to be written?
Book in for a call and let’s explore.Schedule Appointment
Each month I start with a perfect day exercise. As a long term journaler, I believe in the power of the pen and the power of envisioning what you want through expressing my desires on paper. One of the keys to a perfect day is to write it as if it were already true.
When I write about my perfect day I like to have meditated and journaled so that whatever needs to come out can and I am a clean slate and an open channel for what I need to express.
I place my trust in what needs to be written rather than forcing it. This quote comes to mind as I consider my perfect day.
You’re not always going to have a perfect day. You’re not always going to have the day that you envision.Baker Mayfield
With the best will in the world these things don’t always come off, because not everything we want is what we need. And, of course, stuff happens that takes us off course. However, by writing about your day and allowing your imagination to play and be creative you are opening up to opportunities that you may otherwise miss in your busy life.
Today I am enjoying envisioning my perfect day
Write about your perfect day. Write it as if it were already here. When you have written it, leave it for a day to reflect. It is important that you bring this activity alive and make your experience of your perfect day as rich as possible.
My perfect day also shows me what goals I want to achieve for that month which helps me to focus on the actions I need to take. I make sure I check in with my heart, gut and head when it comes to planning out that action.
After refection pick the project that you are going to work on and write up an action plan with tasks, milestones, resources and rewards.
What is the first thing that you are going to do? And the next and the next? What can you get done today that will make this a reality?
Remember that this needs to align with your brand and business, unless this is a personal project.
If having a book is on your to do list, then today is the perfect day to envision it and put those kick start plans into place.
I have another Writing to Heal book that I want to write and today is the day that I map out the outline, I’ve seen it come alive and I have also put aside time to write.
The first thing,
Often when you are trying to find the right book you get in your own way and then all that happens is your brain gives you false information.
This visualisation will help you to tap into a deeper part of you so that you can discover the right book. Enjoy!
When you have listened to the visualisation do the perfect day exercise for your book and you will find the book and then you can start to plan it out.
What book will you write? Please come and share.
How can you make your book a reality?
Do you get the Monday morning blues? What is a blue Monday anyway? What is Blue Monday?
How do you prepare for
We talk about the Monday Blues and now we seem to have a much publicised day (Blue Monday) when not long after the New Year life as we know it crashes around our ankles. Ok, maybe not quite so dramatic…
Let’s talk about the Monday blues first and then consider this ‘day’ that is supposed to be the bluest of the year.
For many years I would drag myself out of bed and head into work. The journey in smoggy traffic would smother my energy. Driving along I would cast a glance over, and there would be other Monday morning blues people, all sitting bleary-eyed and equally miserable on their nose to nose journey to their destination for the day – the job…
Monday was always the worse day of the week. Some say Tuesday when already the weekend seems so far away. I didn’t feel it, Tuesday was well Tuesday and a day when I was able to settle into what needed to be achieved. It’s all about perception, isn’t?
Back then every Monday was a blue Monday.
When I worked in the Tax office, you could accrue flexi-time, and so I always came in early and worked hard so that I could have a half day on Friday. It was heaven, it motivated me and gave me something to look forward too.
In another job, I can still picture my arrival at work ritual. While sitting in the car, I’d take a few deep breaths and really let them go. As I approached the office door (glass), I would check my body language and smile. Whomever I met I would offer a big fat cheery ‘hello, how are you, isn’t it a fab day’ (or words to that effect). If I was asked how I was, it was ‘bloody marvellous’ (or something equally irritatingly cheerful). It was all about making a choice to be happy even though I may not have been ecstatic about what I was doing for the day.
When I arrived home, I’d often walk, and at bedtime, I would always journal. I needed to release the day, change my perspective and make different choices about each day’s experiences. I needed to learn from that days story. My journal as ever was my saviour.
Fast forward to today. I’m self-employed, I have much more responsibility, there is just me and any outsourced resources I use. The difference is I make conscious choices about what I want to feel and create in the hours I have available. I use my time more efficiently, taking regular breaks and flexing that time so that I am more effective.
I work in a way that works for me and dare I say it, my sanity.
I start my day with a short meditation, journaling, writing and connecting with my groups. I find writing sets my day up well.
As I write this, there are two dogs on my bed, one snoring rather nicely and one in the lounge listening to the news. She will alert me if there is something I need to listen to. When the writing is done, I walk with them and connect with Mother Nature – my thinking time.
In this reflective space, I run through what I need to achieve for the day. I let random thoughts come to me, and if I need to capture anything, I’ll record it. The evening before I will have planned out what I need to do and I have learned that things take a lot longer than you think, so I set myself up for success by not over planning.
Because of the tools I have equipped myself with, Mondays are no longer blue.
In doing some research into this Blue Monday phenomenon, I came across many interesting articles. The most well known story of course is Dr Cliff Arnall’s.
It’s strange how things take off, isn’t it? I am sure that Dr Arnall who first conceived of Blue Monday didn’t expect the current reaction to it. Back in 2005, he came up with a formula for calculating the most depressing day in the year.
Apparently, the date was calculated by using factors, such as the weather conditions, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action (and probably failing at that too).
In 2018, Arnall told The Independent newspaper that it was “never his intention to make the day sound negative”, but rather “to inspire people to take action and make bold life decisions”. Dr Arnall went on to partner with Virgin to challenge the perception of Blue Monday.
This year, by the way, Monday 21st January is Blue Monday. Blue Monday is always the third Monday of January.
First of all, how depressing is that? Perpetuating the myth that this is a blue day and people are at their most miserable? Why would we continue to set people up for a feeling of dread?
Why would we want to set anyone up to feel more stress, when the start of a new year often feels like a time of change and a drive to do better and be better?
I guess, for some, it’s no wonder that it is perceived it as a melancholy day. It’s three weeks into the New Year, and resolutions will be down the pan. Motivation will be peaking, most probably not in the right direction.
All of this misery, instead of the original intention, I believe sets people up for more of a dive into the downward spiral of stress. I was reading some stress statistics from MentalHealth.org.uk for 2018.
There are many causes of stress. You will, I am sure, as you go about your day feel some level of stress. A certain amount of stress helps us to adapt to our environment, however too much triggers the stress response and this is what is damaging.
Triggers can come at you from anywhere. Think for a moment what might trigger you to become angry, fearful, stressed or to have a gorgeous belly laugh?
I am visual and I ‘tend’ see all kinds of devastation coming at me from different angles, which I capture and change. I call it my creative storytelling mind and I make up what I call creative life stories to move the story along. When I hear bad news, like the time I was told that my spine had fractured, my mind went into temporary insanity. I new that it was a normal reaction, and I could deal with it. I kept saying over and over again I can deal with this, I can do it, I can… But I was in fear and I knew that fear and stress would not help my healing.
I used to teach assertiveness skills, so I knew intellectually that in relation to fear, there were several ways that we typically respond. One is to fight and the other is to run away. This is known as the fight or flight response.
When we sense danger, our bodies release hormones to an area of the brain called the amygdala. Depending on your response to the danger you may experience a number of things.
For example, you may get a racing heart or a bad tummy. What’s important is that you recognise your typical response. This response is due to cortisol and adrenaline (hormones) being released into the body. They, in turn, signal the adrenals, which are a part of the endocrine system (on top of your kidneys) to release the hormones.
Adrenaline increases your heart rate, blood pressure and the amount of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. Cortisol also releases increased amounts of glucose into the bloodstream, which your brain needs to deal with the perceived threat. Glucose is food for the brain. The brain with an increased supply of food can do its work. When the fear response diminishes everything goes back to normal.
Problems arise when we constantly live in fear. You may have heard people who are newly diagnosed with something saying that they are constantly tired. That’s
At the time when my spine fractured I was in pain, but I was also immensely tired. My body was certainly responding to all of the triggers. Exhausted I let my body rest and focused on staying as positive as I could.
The other thing you may do is panic. What the ‘beep’ am I going to do? Panic is normal, and it’s usually our next response. Think for a moment when as you are driving away from home to go on holiday and you ask, did I turn the iron off? What happens? Yes, fear and then panic. Then you calm down as you go through those final steps of closing up the house and you can see yourself doing what you always do, and the iron is off. Of course, you can ring a friend and ask them to pop in to check so that you feel reassured.
Fear (and other emotions) will attach itself to the memory of the event, and you will code and remember this memory as a time of potential unpleasantness. Then what we often do is future pace our fear, and this becomes anxiety. You start to worry about things that may never happen.
Sometimes this endless worrying does bring about the event, something which is called a self-fulfilling prophecy. You have through constant mithering have given your body permission to bring you the thing that you fear the most.
Take a look at yourself. Are you stressed? Do you feel stressed? Are you hiding your stress?
Sometimes we are ‘stressed out’, and we are not even aware of our rising stress levels. But not all individuals respond to stressors in the same way. Your genetic make-up, personality and past experience all dictate how you deal with and react to stressors. In other words, susceptibility to stress-related medical problems varies among individuals.
Some people are particularly vulnerable to stressful situations or events, while others may be highly productive under pressure.
If you recognise the major symptoms of stress, you will associate situations in your life with specific stress symptoms, and consequently, learn better-coping strategies for those situations. However, sometimes your body experiences stress while you remain unaware. This chart lists some of the manifestations of stress:
Changes in eating/sleep habits
Less social contact
Shouting at others
Reduced sex drive
Do you notice any of these or any triggers that
The key to success is finding a technique that works best for you, so you may want to try several different methods.
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress. I walk my dogs 3-4 times a day. This works for me because it forces me to get up and out. This time is great for them and I get to breathe fresh air and reflect.
This is something that I have really struggled with. In the summer you will find me on the terrace reading a book in the evenings. Sometimes I take a bath, which I love – just not right now as there is no heating in there. Other things you can do is listen to music, practise meditation, simpley find some quiet reflection time, yoga, aromatherapy or massage.
Allied with your journal you may decide that keeping a specific diary is the way ahead. Becoming aware of stress-inducing occurrences and writing down events that were stressful to you can help you to create and adopt effective coping strategies to manage the causes of stress in your life.
Prioritise what you need to accomplish during the day and tick off each item as you finish them. Time management is a key step to keeping tabs on stress levels.
Learn to delegate tasks and responsibilities at home and at work, and learn to say ‘No’. I know that is easier said then done
It is hard to work efficiently when you are tired, and that can be stressful. Take a look at some of the great resources on www.sleepguru.co.uk.
Friends can provide with support and guidance to help reduce stress and enhance well-being.
Some stressors (i.e. domestic violence, unsafe work or home environment) do not have easy solutions. If the above measures are not helping, if the severity of the stressor is extreme, or if you are affected by severe anxiety or depression, talk to your doctor. If you need other support then find a recommended trusted counsellor or coach to support you.
Maintain a healthy, balanced diet. I could wax lyrical about diet as this is something I subscribe to. My diet is one of the keys to my health, well being and balance.
Laughter may boost the immune system and lower stress levels
I’ve left journal and writing to last. I do many things, but this is one of the biggest assets to my life. Recently I started a new journal and a new journaling adventure 101 days of being me (sign up its free). I knew that after last year that I was in for an adventure as I returned to a healthy pace of life. And I wanted to find out more about me in a positive sense.
I was also aware of the third Monday – Blue Monday as a day when I might potentially want to ‘give it all up’ and not maintain the focus on my goals. It wasn’t like I was setting myself up to do this, but there was a feeling that what if I started the year with great gusto and things that I expected to manifest didn’t. In my head I was open to opportunities that I was anticipating, but none the less I could feel flashes of doubt in my tummy.
When I first came to Spain after leaving an unpleasant relationship, I’d thought about the first 100 days of a leaders role and knew that to find my way, I would need to do something to take me forward. I added a day on and called it 101 days of being me. It worked and I navigated that time with the support of my journal.
What I have discovered is that by journaling I get to know me, I can face my fears, change my perspective and navigate life with clarity. Although I cannot see around bends and I do not have a crystal ball, what this tool gives me is a daily place to explore what is going on. With this insight I can deal with life, change unexpected events and potential Blue Mondays.
This is what you can do. Grab a brand new journal and use your this writing and journaling experience to find you, get clarity and use it to store your feelings, action and wisdom.
With the 101 days method you journal for 10 days and after 10 days you start to reflect and then at the end of your first 10 days reflection period you look for
You may even find a book in there. Your story could help save someone else’s life. Think about that. Imagine what it would be like to inspire someone else to embrace change?
Journaling and writing is a journey with your soul; writing can help you to heal and de-stress. Everyone who writes at some level moves on. Your pen has a deep connection with you and if you allow the words to flow you will discover alchemy, your pot of gold.
Start today, get a journal, get lots of journals and put them beside your bed. Journal when you go to bed and when you wake up. You don’t have to write reams, just let it come as it wants to.
You will find that as you focus on the first 101 days of being you, things like Blue Mondays or any days of the week, can be navigated with more ease.
What if instead of feeling down, we looked at blue Monday as a way to review a long desired project, as was the original intent? What if on blue Monday, or even today you started to journal and thought about your long held desires? Choose something that will inspire you, fill your heart and add value to your life and business. For me that will include writing another book.
I find that writing helps to keep me on track, no matter what. When you write, you make an unconscious connection to your inner wisdom. So ok, things may feel like they are off key, but with a bit of writing and reflection, you can get back on track. Blue Monday is a perfect day to review how far you have come and if your plans need tweaking.
In any way you like, paint a picture of the right here, right now – however, you want to interpret that. In the present, today is my perfect day – what’s great about now?
This is important, I want to you stay in the here and now, because time no longer exists, the past is gone, there is no future, there is only now.
How is it possible that you can enjoy everything that is? There are no longer turning points, forks in the road, cliffs to jump off; there is just a picture of possibilities.
What came up for you?
How can you make Monday full of juice?
We often read that to become a better writer that the way forward is through reading books. I agree with this wholeheartedly. Reading books is a wonderful way to learn something new or to see something with new eyes and a different perspective.
Reading books helps you to be both a better writer and a better human. I read both non-fiction and fiction for pleasure, learn about me and for research. Depending on what I am doing, my mind is tuned into that activity. I wouldn’t read for pleasure and suddenly stop to analyse the structure. I might read and then go back and do that.
To become a better writer, I would argue that you need to read in another way. To get more for your writing you need to read with a writer’s eyes. One of the simplest ways is to keep a journal by the side of your bed or reading space and to make notes of things that catch your imagination.
These could be turns of phrases or something that makes you question your writing in another way. It might be structure, style, the ways that questions are placed, stories, case studies, voice, the way that it appeals to all learning styles, length of chapters, choice of words or a myriad of other things.
The point is you read and analyse to become a better writer.
I suggest to my book clients that they read other books in their genre for research. In this way, they are looking for gaps in the subject matter and things that might be missing that they can take advantage of. Or perhaps find a different perspective on a similar subject.
Reading books also allows you to discover writing styles that you like or otherwise. Imagine buying a book that has 100’s or 1000’s of reviews and discovering that you cannot read it because of the way in which it has been written or the content.
Recently I was in the Guardian in a features about books. In it I talked about a book that I couldn’t throw away. I have a very old copy of Little Women, that as a young girl was dear to my heart, but every time I attempt to read it, I can’t. The writing style no longer suits me.
One of the tasks I give people on my programs and in my coaching is to read other books and making a list of likes and dislikes and then find out why. There is a lot to learn from why you hate something…
This works well for both non-fiction and fiction.
Naturally with fiction you are looking at character development, plot, backstory, pace, point of view, conflict, and tone of voice.
Look at your bookshelf, what books have you read that you gleaned the most from? Is it a book from childhood? Or something more recent?
This morning, I decided to take some time out (again) from reading non-fiction and indulge in some fiction. My Kindle is full of psychological thrillers, mainly because I buy these for my mum’s Kindle. I end up reading them by default.
I loved Girl on the train by Paula Hawkins. So imagine my delight at discovering that I had purchased Into the water for mum. It seemed quite prophetic that it opened with ‘We know that memories are not fixed or frozen…’, as I am about to start recording a course called Kick-start your memoir and I am running a journaling adventure called 101 days of being me.
I feel that this book will reel me in as a reader and somewhere there will be other messages for me to consider.
While reading my mums thrillers my mind is always racing to work out who did it and why. After a while, no matter how well these are written, they become uninspiring and I need a change.
When I am in a ‘I need to drift into nothingness’ mood, the only kind of books I want are chicklit.
So many pieces of chick lit (easy reads) have delivered great value to my personal growth.
Last summer I had a chick lit binge read. Each of the books I read caught me unawares in what I learned about life and me from them. I felt as if I had been taken on a journey with my protagonist where we both learned something that made us better people.
Without sharing the titles and giving the storylines away, this is in brief what I got from four of these books:-
This book had our protagonist acting out a bucket list that belonged to someone else. She overcame her fear and did all of the things on the list. It got me thinking about bucket lists and how they usually revolve around doing some fantastic journeys.
What called to me was what would my soul like to do? What inner work would I like to consider? What fears might I need to confront to be a better person and grow just a bit more? So I set about creating a bucket list for my soul rather than my human.
In this book what I learned was that we don’t realise what we have until it is too late. It was about not being aware of what is right in front of you and how you take so many things for granted. This made me stop and look at all of the wonderful things that I have. Big gratitude for what I have is what I walked away with. What 3 things are you grateful for?
The message here was letting go of material things, planning and working with your inner resources. This led me to look around at the material things that I had and did not need. I did yet another declutter giving away and selling things so that others could enjoy them.
Decluttering the physical creates space, but it also moves the energy within so that more opportunities can flow to you. This book also made me think about how I could be more resourceful with what I have – both material and my inner resources.
This made me think about relationships (men wise) and seeing the inner beauty of a person. The right person may not be who you think it is. We put labels on people and our desires, such as tall, has green eyes, intelligent, does this for a living, etc. All of which hides who they might be and what we should do is let their soul reveal themselves to us.
Seeing inner beauty is also about the inner beauty of everyone you meet. The outer shell is just that a shell. The depth of a human is what comes from within.
I wonder what Into the water will teach me? I will let you know.
There are so many stories inside each of us that could change someone else’s thinking and their lives. These stories will also change our lives as we write them.
Start with journaling. 101 days has been created as a journaling adventure designed to get you started writing from your soul, finding your stories and choosing to learn and grow.
Even though the books described above are all fictional, I am sure that they each have an element of the writer’s life or of someone’s l
Your non-fiction book will do the same. Your reader will discover you through your story, where you were, the stuff that happened before you woke up, your awakening and the actions that you took to become who you are today. They will understand the journey and the outcomes. Which means that if they so choose they too can be inspired by your story and embark on their adventure.
Write a book and take your reader on that journey and unlike fiction, you will be able to give them tools and resources to support them to change and grow.
Finding the perfect and sacred writing space will enable your writing to flow and encourage you to write more. When I talk to clients about why they are unable to write one of the reasons is that they haven’t created the right (write) environment.
I was reminded of this when I awoke at 4:00am this morning. Wanting to write but feeling tired was not a good combination. I quickly decided that bed, my usual sacred writing space wasn’t right.
Heading into to a very cold lounge I organised some cushions, a big furry throw, put on a fire and made a cuppa. Very soon I was joined by two of my dogs. Peace of sorts descended. I was interrupted with Angel licks.
Bed, lounge, conservatory (sun house), office, in your favourite comfy chair, or on the sofa It is important that you find a place where you feel at ease and inspired. There are several places that I like to write in, one is my bed (that is until the doggies interrupt me) another is the sofa in my downstairs lounge and yet another is the day bed outside of my terrace. It depends on my mood to which of these spaces I write in.
Interestingly, I only know which space to choose when I am ready to write.
There is an energy in each of these spaces that
Note what makes the space. It might be the energy of the room, how comfortable you are, a smell, silence, the quality of the air or view. There will be many very subtle things.
When do you want to write? First thing in the morning or last thing at night? In the evening after dinner? I love writing blogs and chapters for books first thing in the morning, not long after I have woken. For pure journaling, it’s usually when I am in bed, all cosy and tucked up. Try different ways and see what works. Different kinds of writing may be better done at different times of the day.
I advise my writers to get into the habit of writing first thing in the
morning,so that they are fresh and it’s done for the day – no procrastination allowed…
If you are an auditory person you may like to have some music on, I love using focus@will (sometimes). If you are kinaesthetic, what about lovely feely things, perhaps a throw and a dog to cuddle. Visual you might like to be in a place where you can see beautiful things, such as
There are other things that you may like, how about burning incense or lighting a scented candle and if you love your food how about a nice cup of tea and some nibbles?
What about clutter? I hate
So in my perfect sacred space, I shall include furry writing muses.
Silence or a busy cafe. My preference is silence or focus@will in my headphones.
People or no people? I find people distract me. They want to chat or to interrupt despite me asking to be left alone, so it’s easier to write when there is no one around. The doggies are fine – to a point. When Angel has decided she wants my attention, nothing will get written.
There will always be a perfect time and the perfect writing space, which suits you. It is important to your creativity to find the right place to write. If you haven’t found your writing space and time, create it. You will know when you have because your words will flow.
What goes into your sacred writing space? When you get it right, you will know and your writing WILL flow.