I’ve spent a good part of this year feeling a tad frustrated that I haven’t been finding time to work on my second book. So when Claire Taylor (author of ‘The Tao of Storytelling) asked me to join the Writer’s Process Blogging Tour, I knew that this was something I needed to do. It has been a pretty significant exercise for me. I was heading off to Kerala with my family for my 50th and while out there found myself reflecting on the four questions (what better place to do this?!). On my return to the UK I have found myself cutting back on City commitments and making more time to write – a passion I’ve wanted to follow since childhood but never dared.
Question 1: What am I working on?
I am currently absorbed in writing a follow up to my first book ‘Tired but Wired’ which was published 4 years ago. This book was about sleep and energy and was based on some of my own personal challenges and the work I’ve been doing with thousands of people in the last two decades. But what I realised years ago – even while writing TBW – was that sleep problems aren’t just about our poor sleep routines or even how much caffeine we drink but are often caused by far more profound reasons. Unhappiness, lack of meaning, purpose and inherent safety often lead people to make the wrong choices – such as drinking too much alcohol, staying up all night to watch TV or surf the internet. So this book goes deeper than my first and in that sense, feels rather special. My aim is to help people to wake up this time (!) and to look at the choices they are making, becoming more conscious both in our relationships and how we choose to live.
Question 2: How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Perhaps a more relevant answer to this question is that I feel my USP (if I can call it that) lies in the four distinct strands to my work.
All of my work – public speaking, motivational seminars and writing – encompasses 4 key elements. These are: my personal insight and experience, a scientific aspect, a more esoteric or philosophical aspect, and practical application. These four elements are all equally important. The personal element is important because for me, it’s vital that people don’t see me as some sort of superwoman or guru. I see myself as a somewhat flawed human being who is just muddling through life like anyone else and trying to find her way. I need my readers to know that many of the challenges I write about are things I face or have faced in my own life. I feel the balance between science and the esoteric/spiritual aspects lend more credibility – in my corporate work I have to deal with so many cynics. Perhaps less so than 15 years ago when I first started doing this work and had to ‘sell’ everything on science. The practical element is vital to my work and I am known for being good at this. One of my values is about making my work accessible to everyone and this is why I left academia so many years ago. I really couldn’t see how the work I was doing would have any practical application to anyone. I’m a great believer in throwing out a few practical ‘nuggets’ which can act as a powerful catalyst for change. People often send me feedback after my sessions saying that X or Y really helped even though they were such small things. I love sharing these with my readers and workshop attendees so that they have something tangible to take away with them.
Question 3: Why do I write what I do?
When I was at university I fell in love with the subject of Physiology. I’d actually get excited listening to a lecture about the work of Claude Bernard, homeostasis and the how the body maintains a constant internal environment and state of balance. Even then, at the start of the learning curve, I had a sense that the body is exquisitely designed to self-regulate when we honour its messages and warnings. Years later I joined a health screening clinic in the city and spent many hours in a white lab coat measuring the health of City employees, the fascination grew as I watched how this ability to self-regulate is impacted by external influences – pace of life, technology, globalisation – and how it has started to influence the choices we need to make. Alongside my professional and academic interests was my own personal journey from serious mental illness back to health, the traumatic death of my sister in 2002 and other life events which inform my work at its deepest levels. This is what my work – both writing and speaking – is all about now. How do we stay healthy, happy and sane in these chaotic times? How do we look after ourselves so that we have the energy and vitality to live life to the full with meaning and purpose?
Question 4: How does my writing process work?
I am delighted at having to reflect on this question. I am still experimenting with my writing process. For my first book, I wrote whenever I could, fitting it in between meetings, workshops and seminars, the school run, steaming the broccoli! I always have a notebook and pen with me. Now I’m working on a more systematic process and this feels very necessary both for my sanity and to enable me to go to the depths that I want to go to my second book. I love writing first thing in the morning whenever I can sometimes getting up at 4 or 5am to have the quiet time to do this. For me, the energy of the morning always feels somehow pure and perfect for writing. I still have a bit of a ‘Martini’ writing habit – this means writing anytime, anyplace, anywhere. I often get my best ideas when I’m standing on a train platform with a 5 minute wait for my train. I love Moleskins and my husband bought me a beautiful Mont Blanc fountain pen for my birthday.
Movement is very important to help me to get out of my head and back into my body if I’ve been writing intensely. Sometimes I start the day with a yoga programme which includes postures, kriyas (cleansing techniques) and pranayama (breathing exercises) to prepare myself to write. Other times, I just dive in and get writing straight away and then go for a run later (my reward for sitting still for hours). Ideas often come to me as I run and on my return, I rush to my office to write them down before they drift away. I love climbing, both indoors and outdoors, and I think this is the perfect counterbalance to spending hours sitting and writing. I don’t have too much caffeine otherwise I don’t sleep but I do love writing in coffee shops when I get to a certain stage in writing a piece.
Finally, it’s important for me to lead a fairly quiet (perhaps boring) life while I birth a piece of writing. This means not too many late nights (unless I’m writing), very little alcohol and spending time with the right people doing things that nourish me. My work inspires my writing so it’s important for me to strike a good balance between doing the right amount of work ‘out there’ and allowing the time and space for ‘in here’ and writing. I’m still experimenting with this.
And now allow me to introduce you to three very different and equally inspirational writers.
After 70 years of being R J Harvey, Robert, Bobby, Bob, Dad, Father, Grandpa, etc,I decided it was time for a rebrand, so when I hit the new decade on February 21st I announced that good friends should call me Arjay or R J – however they preferred to spell it. It was all part of taking time to explore my spirituality and – above all – writing a book.
My life has been gloriously varied. I have sold shoes in Africa, worked in advertising, marketed sheds and greenhouses and built up the exports of SodaStream. I then ran my own restaurant group until it collapsed in the recession of the early 90s. I then changed tack started writing presentations for corporate events. I probably should have been a writer all along.
I have been married twice and including my two stepdaughter in the tribe, I have 17 children who call me Grandpa. Now I am more or less retired, and live in the Cathedral Close in Lincoln. My next project is to write a book that will persuade people that spiritual beliefs do not have to be about ritual, liturgy and idolatry – but should be about unconditional love. I think it’s a message that a lot of people want to hear, and it’s dear to my heart.
My restaurant background has given me a love of food and wine, and I have a growing circle of friends whom I enjoy entertaining. I am still occasionally hired for corporate script-writing projects, and the money goes into my “Air-fares Fund.” for one of my other great passions – travel. However, like all travellers, it is the returning home that puts everything in perspective, and as I write this in the heat of Kerala, I think about the pleasure of sharing my stories around the dinner-table when I return.
Nikola King is a writer, intuitive coach and teacher. Her mission in life is quite simple… to love and be compassionate. Her passion is in supporting others to reconnect to themselves. To embody everything that they are and came here to be.
Nikola published her first book in November 2012, entitled “Unconditional”… taking a look at why we are still so predisposed to value ourselves based upon image and how we can change the way we ‘look’ and ‘feel’ about ourselves.
Nikola writes a blog which can be found at www.nikolaking.blogspot.com. Its primary function to inspire, challenge and support people on their own journeys.
Living a life of truth and authenticity and inspiring others in the process remains her raison d’etre.
Mari Cruice has been an English, Philosophy and Drama teacher in and around London for over fifteen years. She currently teaches at Tiffin Girls’ School and is a visiting lecturer at Kingston and Roehampton Universities. She recently completed her doctoral thesis on the subject of secondary English teaching and published a play-script based on her findings.
Mari writes regularly with other teachers, usually on Saturday mornings, in London museums, cafes or parks. She is on the Executive Committee of the National Writers’ Project (NWP), the aim of which is to encourage teachers to meet, to write and to share their writing. As a result of the support of her fellow writers from the Project, Mari has published a number of poems and articles and has just started writing a comic play. To find out more about the work of the NWP, go to: www.nwp.org.uk