Invest in Yourself: Lessons from Suzy Greaves of Psychologies
The Self-Discovery Retreat is rooted in my passions: psychology, water, empowering others, and writing. These interests have drawn me to seek out resources and build a community of people with similar interests. Over the years, one of the tools that really strengthens my growth are the articles in Psychologies magazine. I especially look forward to what the editor has to say in the first couple pages, so I asked her to be part of the "Speaking From the Heart" interview series. I'm so excited that Suzy Greaves is “Speaking from the Heart” and sharing her writing experiences with all of us today.
Suzy Greaves is a writer, journalist, author, business owner, and editor. A freelance health journalist for the monthly glossies and health editor for OK! Magazine and New Woman, Suzy made the leap in 1997 to become a ‘life coach’ and founded The Big Leap Coaching Co. Hailed as ‘the top ten guru to change your life around’ by the Daily Mail, Suzy has written the best-selling Making The Big Leap, named as one of the top ten life-changing books of the year by The Independent on Sunday. Her second book, The Big Peace published by Hay House, was named ‘the ultimate guide to true contentment’ by the Express Newspaper. Suzy has been a columnist for the New Woman, Woman, and Grazia magazines, Top Sante, and Health and Fitness, and an occasional one-minute life coach for GMTV. Suzy became editor of Psychologies magazine in March 2012. She lives in Sussex, England, with her son. Read her interview below.
Why do you believe self-expression (speaking from the heart) is important?
Finding our authentic voice is part of the journey of discovering what we stand for, who we are, what our values are. For me, self-expression and creativity are the very purpose of life.
How has writing empowered you in other areas of your life?
Learning to write has completely changed my life. I always loved writing but when I decided to give up a full time job as a manager of a translation agency in Leeds to go to London to become a writer, I felt like Dick Whittington. Becoming a journalist and then an author proved to me that it is possible to live your dreams, no matter how improbable they might seem.
How did you find your authentic voice through writing?
I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. You just have to vomit onto the page and allow yourself to be really bad in order to become better. I call it big heart writing. Just put your pen to paper, fingers on the keyboard, and just write without stopping for 15 minutes – allow yourself to rant, whinge, laugh on the page. Don’t censor yourself – just get it down. When I first started to write, I was self-conscious – always with my eye on what others would think of me. Authenticity comes from writing what you really think versus what you think others want to hear. It takes a lot of courage to find your authentic voice.
How did you develop the courage to stand tall (i.e., get the courage to share your writing)?
I was always terrified when I had to hand in a piece of journalism. I was working 17 hours a day as a journalist – not because I had so much work but more because I was terrified I was an awful writer and would procrastinate so much. But then I hired a life coach (the wonderful Rachel Pryor) and she helped me question my beliefs. She made me pin up all the articles I had published on the wall of my study. I had worked for most of the major magazines and newspapers in the UK. "Why would they keep commissioning you if you were no good?" she asked. Faced by a literal wall of evidence, I started to build a belief that I was a good writer. But it’s really hard at first – when you really don’t know. I would suggest joining a supportive writing club (I’m so passionate about this – I host The Big Writing Club once a month on the telephone) where you can share you fears and your hopes and get some constructive feedback – and also have some accountability.
When you have a hard time writing, what do you to work through it?
I’m a massive fan of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. She believes that you need to be constantly inspiring yourself with a once a month ‘artist’s date’. I always do this – 3 hours a week doing something new or interesting and vaguely creative – be it buying some water-colours and painting the view from my bedroom window to going to a new film or exhibition. Although, this is also a great way to procrastinate (my best and most finely-honed skill!). My commitment to my writing is 15 minutes a day, 4 days a week, Monday to Thursday. (I’m writing a novel and a non-fiction book right now). Even if I don’t get anything sensible down, it still allows me to keep connected to the story. What I find really hard is if I don’t keep up momentum. If I take even a week off, I find it very challenging to get going again.
How did you find your support group?
I created it. I couldn’t find the support that I wanted – I had a young baby at the time so I couldn’t be going out to classes or clubs so I started a writing club with other writers via conference call. We meet once a week. (It’s open to all!)
Any advice for new writers/authors?
Get to the page every day - even if you only write 150 words a day. In a week, you'll have your first 1000 words done - you could have your first draft finished in half a year - just working 10 minutes a day.
Get support - join a writing group that gives you inspirational and practical tools.
Get used to 'big heart writing' and allow yourself to splurge on the page - don't expect to create perfect prose. Sometimes I'll be 700 words in before I think - yes, this is what I want to say. Give yourself permission to write crap. It's easier to edit something than nothing.
Commit to just 5 or 10 minutes a day to write. Make it realistic. Many people say that they will do 5 hours on a Saturday but become so intimidated, they end up doing nothing.
Keep it short and manageable.
Thanks for speaking from your heart and empowering others, Suzy! Carry on the fantastic work! If you are seeking inspiration and a community of writers, I encourage you to join the Big Writing Club.
What lessons did you learn from reading Suzy's interview? Write the lessons down and why they spoke to you. If you met Suzy, what would you like to tell her? Share your thoughts in the "Comments" section below or in your personal journal.
Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.
See you at the beach!