Writer’s Process Blogging Tour

Recently I received an email from an author friend Mary Ann Mhina inviting me to take part in a writer’s blogging tour. Intuitively I said yes although I wasn’t sure why until I explored the questions below and recognised the invitation as a gift. Having published my first book The Tao of Storytelling – 30 Ways to Create Empowering Stories to Live By in November 2013, I’ve been mulling around ideas for my next book. Being asked to write about what I’m working on has encourage me to become more clear on this next step in authorship. Thanks Mary Ann for your writer’s process blog and inviting me to get onboard!

So back to the job at hand – answering the four questions below;

What am I working on?
Well firstly I’m working on my mission to bring storytelling into business with The Story Mill a company which I co-founded with my husband David and on our digital storytelling business Glass Slipper Digital too.

I’m still promoting The Tao of Storytelling, which encourages people to discover the treasure in their own stories. I’m also writing a new book, also on storytelling however it has a broader context than The Tao of Storytelling. The new book is about my search for a way of living that is sustainable and shows how changing the stories I had about about my relationship with my father has been key to that. It chronicles the relationship between my father and I and the context of that relationship in terms of the family history and the cultural, social, economic and political contexts that influenced it. It is a story that moves from anger, guilt and being stuck to one of forgiveness, freedom and love.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I described The Tao of Storytelling as a wisdom memoir, thereby creating a new genre. That’s because I didn’t want to trot out salacious tales of who did what to whom, despite the success of a generation of misery memoirs that was popularized in 1990’s by Frank McCourt’s infamous Angela’s Ashes. All due respect to his superb writing and storytelling skills, however, that style simply didn’t ring true for me – so I coined the phrase ‘wisdom memoir’ for The Tao of Storytelling. The new book that I’m working on is my 2nd wisdom memoir.

Why do I write what I do?
Firstly it’s important to say that I’ve loved writing since I was a little girl at school and even the smell of a book has always been like literary gravy. I enjoy the writing journey – it connects me to my creativity and gets me into flow with the writing at hand and with life in general. It’s easy to become disconnected and dissociated in a world that is so busy, so fast moving especially in corporate organisations with which I’ve worked for many years building brands and leading teams. Writing brings me back into a more connected, creative, joyful, loving place within myself. Writing is a transformational journey for me and often profoundly healing. I’m not the same woman at the end of a book or a piece of writing as I was at the beginning of it. The bonus is to find that I have a completed book to share with the world what I’ve gleaned on my journey.

How does my writing process work?
The Tao of Storytelling – began as a blog of stories that I wrote for sheer pleasure. People seemed to resonate and feel uplifted by them. Eventually folk were asking if there would be a book and so it was that I published The Tao of Storytelling in 2013. While writing the stories initially, I was in a delicious creative flow. However during the editing stage I focused on ensuring that my creativity would be meaningful for the reader. It was during that stage that the questions to enable readers to discover their own treasure emerged as well as articulating certain aspects of the stories to ensure that they would resonate. Since publication I have been thrilled to receive some wonderful communications from people who have read The Tao of Storytelling, sharing how the stories have touched their hearts and inspired them.

With the new book I have begun quite differently – by mapping ideas. It’s an emergent process and important to create space and time to allow the creativity to flow. It’s a combination of sitting down intentionally to work on the book and also being ready to capture ideas which come to me in the most unexpected places. So I have an unlined notebook and coloured pens to jot down the spontaneous wisdom that comes from the muses.

The places that I like to write are varied, sometimes at home in my office that overlooks the Oxfordshire fields and trees. Café’s are a favourite place to write and the right ambience is essential – cosy, quaint, big fireplaces, tranquil gardens all make for delightful places to write.

Ultimately having the time and space to write is a gift that I treasure. Often it’s a matter of simply making time because like most writers there are many other things to be done during the day. Thankfully I find it energizing and delightful and I’m thrilled when my readers enjoy the results.

Now, I’d like to introduce you to two great writers who will take up the baton to articulate their writing processes.

Nerina Ramlakhan:
UntitledNerina Ramlakhan is a writer, business consultant, sleep therapist and compulsive bookworm. She has been helping people to live their lives with greater vitality, balance and happiness for over 20 years. Her first and foremost passion has always been writing and she dared to publish her first book ‘Tired But Wired’ in June 2010.

Nerina shares her monthly blogs on Her deepest intention in writing these pieces is to impart immensely practical wisdom and bring inspiration to all who read them. She lives what she teaches and is passionate about making a difference. She is currently writing her second book. Further details of her work can be found on

Louise Taylor:

LouiseWriter, Performance Poet, Comedian

Here’s how my comedy writing was described by one of my mentors, Peter Vincent – a top comedy writer:
“The creativity is wild and imaginative – funny – sophisticated….the author is a natural writer….I wish I’d written some of those switches and insults!”

I’ve wanted to be a writer since childhood – following in the footsteps of my Mother, an award winning am dram playwright. I found I had natural comic timing as an am dram actress and I was always asked to write and perform the corporate cabarets. I emerged professionally over 20 years ago as my alter ego Iona Jette writing and performing comedy monologues. My most recent one was performed at Brighton Festival in 2013.

My performance poetry emerged as a result of one of my coaches encouraging me to be more like Shakespeare! Comedy poetry was added to the monologues and at about the same time I learnt the craft of stand up comedy and added that to my repertoire as a writer and performer. My own voice as a performance poetry only emerged fairly recently, but always with some element of humour. I’m writing a series of books – my life’s work – about my creative coaching which includes a novella written as a fable. There’s a sitcom in its umpteenth rewrite after a rejection which I hope to finish soon. At the moment I’m focused on publishing and recording my collection of performance poetry whilst I consider my next step on stage with my comedy monologues.


Making Christmas

Yesterday David and I were hand-delivering Christmas cards to friends in the small market town where we live – as we always do a day or two before Christmas.

A couple of friends spotted us dropping-off their card and opened their front door and said, ‘hey, guys – come in for a cuppa.’ We did! We hadn’t seen them for a while and the woman told me that she had been made redundant earlier in the year and had gone through a difficult time, since she’d been in her job for several years.

Now however, she was in good spirits and she told me her secret. “I’ve been making things,” she said, smiling. ‘What have you been making?’ I replied enthusiastically.

She reeled-off a list of things that she had made including; clothes for the doll of a friend’s four year old daughter, scented bags with lavender from her garden, chutney, sloe gin and Christmas cakes! She’d kept herself busy being creative.

When we got home we found ourselves watching a re-run of a Christmas episode of a 1970’s British sitcom called The Good Life. It features Tom and Barbara who live a minimalist natural lifestyle while in contrast their well-to-do neighbours Gerry and Margo live a life that is the complete antithesis.

In the Christmas episode, Tom and Barbara create their festivities by making crackers from old toilet rolls and such like while Margo has Christmas delivered from an exclusive department store. Margo’s order is delivered just before Christmas with slight discrepancies from what she’d ordered and so she refuses to accept any of it. She demands instead that the whole order be redelivered perfectly.

On Christmas morning Gerry finds Margo ringing all of their posh friends to tell them that Gerry is unwell and that they are out of circulation for Christmas. Gerry is surprised to hear that he’s unwell since he feels fine and then Margo tells him that she has cancelled Christmas because it hasn’t been delivered! The exclusive department store – surprise, surprise – doesn’t deliver on Christmas Day!

It got me thinking about how we made Christmas in Ireland, when I was growing up, a story I tell in my book The Tao of Storytelling. We spent months preparing – making Christmas cakes and puddings from early November and Christmas decorations in the run-up to the big day.

Now in contrast, David and I, like most folk, buy Christmas. We’re too busy in the run-up to Christmas to make cakes or puddings or Christmas decorations or cards. We don’t need to make things – everything is so accessible to us in the shops. We work hard for our money, we invest the majority of our time doing so and we appreciate the convenience of being able to buy Christmas. It doesn’t make economic sense either – we can buy Christmas for far less money than it would take us to make it – at our hourly rates. After all, most of the products we buy have been made either by machines or by people who live in countries where a few pence goes a long way and who live much more simply than we do in the affluent West.

But here’s a thing – we are depriving ourselves of a rewarding gift when we simply buy Christmas. Making things is nourishing for our souls. When our kids or our partner makes something, that’s not the same – we need to engage ourselves in the creative act of making something to get the benefit if it.

As someone who buys Christmas too, I ‘get’ the whole time and economic argument. Recently however, I rediscovered the pleasure of creating something new, since I started making yoghurt at home so that I can ferment it long enough for it to be lactose free. Every time I put a newly fermented batch into my yoghurt jar and transfer it to the fridge I feel a warm glow of pride that another litre of delicious yoghurt has turned-out out well. That same glow is what I noticed on my friend’s face yesterday when she told me that she’d been making beautiful things and was inspired as a result.

So, most of us have some time-off over Christmas and while it’s not practical to make Christmas from start to finish due to time constraints – we can decide if the only thing we’ll make is our way around the shops to buy more stuff or if instead we’ll also invest some of our precious time indulging our spirits in making something that is fun or beautiful or useful or all three.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday and here’s hoping that you allow yourself to indulge your creative spirit and feel the soul-smiling glow of pride that comes from making Christmas or New Year. If you’re not inspired to begin – start anyway and you may well find that inspiration is your reward when you have finished!


Following The Yellow Brick Road

In 2011 I began writing stories from my life in a blog and I simply wrote whichever stories popped into my mind.  I didn’t sit down and make a list of all the stories that I planned to tell and then tick them off one by one.  Nope! I had no plan at all and that, I realised, is an inspired way to discover the treasure in your stories.


Why? Because when you’re discovering the treasure in your personal stories – the treasure emits an energetic signal.  So it’s not really hidden at all.  It’s there waiting for your attention.  You just have to tune in to where you seem to have an energetic charge around something in your history or in your present.  That energetic charge is a flashing beacon that is calling your attention.


Once you allow yourself to open up to that flashing beacon the story behind it – if you don’t know it already – gets revealed.  Sometime you’ll have a vague sense of the story and as you allow it to flow it will become clearer.  Stay with it.  Write it down. 


The form that it initially emerges in is not the whole truth.  It might be a story where you felt victimized or broken-hearted.  Write it down just the way that it naturally wants to come through – don’t censor it.


Once it has emerged onto the page – read it and allow yourself to feel your feelings about it – don’t indulge in them – just let them flow.   Then leave the story for a few days or a couple of weeks and read it again.  You’ll notice that you may begin to see it differently – from more objective eyes. 


Ask yourself what was really going on for everyone (including yourself) in that story?  What did you learn?  How could you see it differently from this objective perspective? What is the gift of wisdom in that story?


Once a more empowering thread begins to appear you’ll recognize it because it will lighten you up – you may even have a ‘eureka’ moment!


Now write down this new empowering story.  Build upon it until your energy is buzzing and you know that you have discovered its treasure.  It may not happen in one sitting – it might happen over several weeks.


Once you have collected your gemstones from the story place them into your life knapsack (or in your heart) and continue to make your way along the yellow brick road to discover the next treasure that awaits you.


If you want to find out more about discovering the treasure in your life stories – you can order my new book:


The Tao of Storytelling – 30 Ways to Create Empowering Stories to Live By – available from Nov 4th 2013.


It’s a wisdom memoir with 30 narratives from my life written as I experienced them at the time, followed by reflections from an older wiser me.  Each story contains a universal truth or theme – which may resonate with you. Then there are exercises for you to do to discover the treasure in your own personal stories too.  When you do so you’ll become empowered by your treasure so that you can build a future that resonates with your passions, your gifts and your dreams.