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Writer At Work

My friend and fellow author Ji Hyang Padma author of the lovely book, Living The Season: Zen Practice For Transformative Times recently invited me to take part in a “Blog Hop”. It required answering some thoughtful questions on my writing life. Here’s what I had to say and a link to her blog, Natural Wisdom

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What am I writing/working on?

When it comes to writing I’m always working on something or other, whether it’s personal writing or writing for publication. Writing creatively in some form or shape is an everyday occurrence. I do feel lost without my journal, a blank index card or the Notes app on my iphone.

At the moment I have several writing projects on the go and many that are near completion or needing to meet a current deadline.

These include: Two articles for a print journal and an online magazine. The topics are: Exploring the impact of race and diversity in coaching and the second is a feature on Mindfulness for women.

I’m just putting the finishing touches to my latest Manifesto, Paper Therapy. We did have an original design but it didn’t make my heart sing so I put it away for a few weeks and then the other day on my travels I came across a design that gave me the ideas for a new look for the Manifesto which I now love. It’s just in time for a workshop I will be delivering at a summer well being festival here in the UK.

I have two online courses that I’ve written which require tying up loose ends and I’ve gifted myself the month of August to birth both of these projects. This is both an exciting and scary time for me as it is taking my work into new arenas. So watch this space.

As usual I’m late in completing the content for my website’s monthly newsletter. I just never seem to be able to generate this in advance. I’ve tried programming the topics in advance for the year but it felt really stilted and I found the writing didn’t flow. But part of me knows that I enjoy working close to the bone so I’m kind of accepting this and not nagging myself about it too much.

I’m playing with the idea of a submission of a ‘Wild Bio’ to a website where I can share more of who I am with a wider audience and an article/blog post on the writing retreat I led in Greece at the end of June, early July. I’ve been sitting with the idea for a few months now and the time now feels right.

I am off for the month of August, which I’ve dedicated as a month of writing. I’ll be staying in London but have planned to explore and hang out in as many London hotspots in nature and culturally as possible. • During my writing vacation I’ve set an intention to leisurely draft the synopsis for my new book whilst wandering and exploring. I’ve given myself permission to be relaxed about this. I’m not one of those writers who can write a book in 90 days. I need time and space and creative oxygen.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Personally I feel I have risen to my own personal challenge of breaking down that barrier of an assumption I carried that to be a coach who works in the corporate sector I have to present a certain professional image (what a load of crap). My challenge to myself was to be brave enough to talk and write about all aspects of my life and expose this on social media. This includes writing about spirituality, the creative process, mysticism and all things alternative that I have something to say about.

There was a time I believed this would go against me. Was it credible to call myself an executive coach and then in the next breath write blog posts about trees, poetry and sacred spaces? Was it okay to disclose that I have over a hundred journals, that I was ordained as an interfaith minister and that I love candles, incense and the moon?

Now I realize the gift writing continuously offers me is to not hide those valuable and essentials parts of the self. The more willing I am to reveal all of who I am including the shadow selves and vulnerabilities that are all a part of me, the more I connect to my wholeness. The better placed I am to model that for others, hopefully offering them permission to do the same. At the end of the day we attract the people and organizations that resonate with how we show up. We all have a magnetic transmission to attract our signature tribe. The key is to be authentic in your own unique way and that is what I aim for as well as I can on any given day.

Why do I write what I write?

On a daily basis I am inspired by nature and the creative process and how this influences our inner lives. I do not see this as separate from my work as a professional coach and speaker. I’m very connected to life’s finer detail, the subtleties, the deeper meaning of life. I capture much of what I see observe, sense, smell, hear and experience in my journal and notebooks.

This habit has helped me stay grounded, strengthen my resilience and expand the reach of my resourcefulness, which often generates a state of peace and calm even when things are turbulent and stressful. Noticing and writing about what I see, sense and observe as I go through my day brings life into full view.

I like that I have this private and wild world inside me that I can make sense of and integrate this into who I am being in all the different roles and persona’s that shape who I am in the world.

Writing helps me to bring both the inner and outer selves into greater alignment. I write about what I often do not say or share in public, in conversations and in relationships. Writing is my way of expressing my voice to myself so when I write I get to listen to myself first. It is a wider exploration of who I am that is often not afforded space in everyday interactions and conversations.

Writing provides a more fertile ground for what I want to say and who I want to be outside of my writing. How does my writing process work? I’m particularly skilled and confident about writing in-between the gaps during my day. By this I mean I don’t have to have designated set times and places to write. As soon as an opportunity to write shows up, I’ll grab it. Most mornings I write Morning pages as a way of clearing my psychological and emotional space. I find this extremely helpful and an affirming way of starting my day.

When it comes to writing projects I’m an advocate of writing those ‘shitty first drafts’. Getting anything down is a sign that I’m willing and ready to get going no matter how awful what I write is. This has served me a thousand times over and is the reason a body of writing work has developed and grown over the years.

I find the craft of shaping and moulding what I write satisfying even when the writing itself feels cumbersome and challenging (which it often does). I’m always trying to find that sentence or idea that I know will hit the right note or help the writing to sing. I guess I see and experience every piece of writing as a possible gift. There’s always the potential that somebody, somewhere will be touched by something that we write or share. This way I can give my work away knowing that it will find its way into the right pair of hand and eyes.

I have had the odd occasion where I have read a past journal entry in my own journal and thought how on point the person was who wrote the quote only to realize I was the author. This is an act of grace and humility and reverence for the writing process. We never really know what might be revealed that will surprise and astonish us, often when we least expect it.

I use everyday household duties as meaningful time for my ideas to percolate. The rhythm of routines like hovering, folding the clothes, filling my papers means my mind is free to go to work on bringing together and connecting ideas, firming up sentences and themes and creating structure and form so that when I arrive at the blank page or computer screen there is something there, a hook, a place to begin.

But then there are times when a writing deadline does not provide time for this kind of wandering without an agenda or a destination. This is when I write without knowing what will come and the writing guides me and shows me what wants to be written.

I’m a firm believer that writing as an art form is a mysterious process full of magic and wisdom that is greater than us. Other times writing pieces and projects are pieced together from scraps of paper, seeds from entries in my journals and notebooks or inspired ideas from quotes and books.

Some of the quotes I’ve collected on index cards go back years. I have an ability to remember a quote from ten years and can photographically recall the colour of the index card I wrote the quote on and what box it might be housed in. I’m accurate 98 per cent of the time.

I’m really motivated and energized to write when I’m traveling on trains, buses and driving in my car. I often park on quiet roads and write at the wheel. Or I park up early outside the train station before heading off to work and write my morning pages.

Everything around me is possible material for all of my writing and much of my writing is heavily influenced by what I experience in my day-to-day interactions.

I draw inspiration from beyond traditional and expected places like books, libraries or the internet. Inspiration and ideas can get sparked from a comment on the radio, a slogan on a billboard, a piece of overheard dialogue on the subway or dialogue and information gleaned from television or a movie. But I need to be receptive and open to receive, to notice and to capture it before it disappears and is forgotten. So I always have pen, paper or fingertips ready to get moving.

If you would like to read Ji Hyang’s “Blog Hop” response please click here to read and find out more about the wonderful work and teaching she’s doing.

What are some of the blogs you read?

Click to follow the links and read more:

The Vulnerability Project Click here ,  Laurie Wagner Wild Writing click here , Rebecca Campbell The Spirited Project click here , Suzette Clough Visual Medicine click here  and Esme Wang click here

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