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20 practical ways of showing up and being brave (and helpful)

September 19, 2017

You are what you do, not what you’ll say you’ll do.

Carl Jung

showing up

Showing up and being brave

This is all about practical ways to show up and be brave. Because it needs to be talked about so we can all show up more, be brave, share our experiences and celebrate them.

Each time we show up – personally, creatively and in support of others – it gets easier to do it again, more often and in a deeper way. Every time, one of us shows up and is vulnerable, it helps and encourages others to do the same. And it involves action at its heart.

Tara Mohr says that her frustration is:

Brilliant women playing small. Women like you, with dreams they want to pursue and ideas they want to share.

Brené Brown says:

You have to make a choice: am I going to show up and be seen?

So here are 20 practical ways of showing up and being seen. Because each time we act, it makes it easier for ourselves and others to do the same.

I hope that it inspires you to show up and be a little braver each time in all that you are doing. Know too that it’s not a selfish act. It’s a way of helping others, showing the way and opening the door.

showing up

20 practical ways of showing up 

1 Support others who are not well or who are struggling

  • Supporting others and learning with them on the journey has to be one of the biggest and most important ways of showing up.
  • It’s easy to get caught up in our own lives, but reach out, do what you can, make time, pick up the phone, send a note or a book. Support people practically and let them know you are thinking of them.

2 Hold space for others

  • Simply holding space for others – listening, witnessing, being there, asking questions – is so powerful.
  • It’s something I’ve learned through caring for my mother and through my coaching program this past year.
  • Having space held for me and holding it for others has been a huge support and source of growth, teaching me so much.

3 Make time for self-care 

  • Showing up for both yourself and others involves an investment in self-care.
  • It might be regular practices like yoga or meditation, exercise, knowing when to rest or making time for what lights you up.
  • Make time for practices that energise you in line with your personality. It could be finding time to read alone if you are a more introverted person. If you are more extraverted, self-care might mean connecting with friends and going out.
  • A huge learning for me this year has been about how self-care is a critical part of caring for others. Just like the adage of putting your own oxygen mask on first, we need to feed our own wellbeing to be helpful to others.

4 Set learning goals and achieve them

  • Identify learning goals that will help you reach your long-term goals and commit to them.
  • You can set smaller goals, like spending 30 minutes each day on an online program you’ve invested in or working through a book to learn new skills.
  • Set your learning goals and work towards them incrementally, knowing the direction.

5 Gain certification or qualifications to strengthen your knowledge and help others

  • Linked to the above, another way of showing up is to study to gain certification or qualifications.
  • This requires commitment and working week by week over time, making sacrifices and putting in the effort, but it’s so satisfying!
  • This past year I completed my Beautiful You Coaching Academy Life Coaching program. A key part of my life transition plan, I’m now a very proud Beautiful You Life Coach.
  • Whatever it is you need to know and develop, look at options to gain the skills you need. They can be in formal or less formal ways; both are important options.

6 Honour your personality and deepen your gifts

  • Honour your special natural attributes and skills, by recognising them, paying attention to them and investing in them.
  • Find out more about your personality and how to work your strengths. Personality wise, it could be introversion or extraversion; sensing or intuition; thinking or feeling. Talent wise, it might be writing, photography, sewing or art.
  • This past year, I learned more about Tarot as a way of honouring my personality and deepening my gift of Introverted Intuition.
  • Susannah Conway’s 78 Mirrors course helped me deepen my knowledge of tarot as an intuitive tool.

7 Develop your gifts and talents by practicing them consistently

  • Once you’ve identified your strengths and talents, one of the best ways to show up is to practice them.
  • Tarot and oracle have become deep personal practices that I work with regularly, flexing my intuition. I share my Tarot Narratives each day on Instagram, linked to books and quotes.
  • If you are working on writing, show up by writing each day. It might be morning pages, a set number of words, an amount of time, or a unit that makes sense to you. But whatever it is, put it into practice.
  • As Stephen King reminds us:

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.

8 Connect on social media as a way of showing up and practice 

  • Social media gets a bad rap as a time waster. And it’s true, you can waste a lot of time there if it’s unfocused. But connecting on social media can be a beautiful way to show up for yourself and your creativity. It can also be powerful in supporting and helping others.
  • I’ve shown up on social media – Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter mostly – over time because I value it immensely as a way of connecting with kindred creatives, growing the Quiet Writing community and learning from my connections.
  • Whether it’s sharing creative practices, books, tarot readings, the detail around you, the landscapes or streetscapes of your environment – it’s all a way of expressing you.
  • The community I connect with on Instagram has been such a creative and emotional support for years now. I likewise offer this support to them. Many of us have become close friends even though we’ve never met. Some of us have had the great pleasure of meeting in real life!

9 Commit to blogging, reading or other accountability practices regularly 

  • If you’re a creative, you can show up via commitment to a pattern of accountable, regular practice.
  • Showing up has an aspect of accountability. It might be books read on Goodreads, blog posts on your blog, social media over time or working quietly with an accountability group behind the scenes.
  • I’ve blogged for 7 years now but always struggled with consistency. This year, I’ve posted 1-2 times each week. It’s been a challenge but I’ve committed to it and talked about it.
  • Reading can also be an exercise in accountability and productivity practice.
  • Try to find a practice and metric that works for you and be accountable.

10 Write about your story

  • Be authentic and write your story. This helps others feel less alone and encourages them to do the same.
  • I’ve written about my journey of becoming more wholehearted this year on Quiet Writing, encouraging others to do so too.
  • From that, I’ve encouraged other women to share their wholehearted stories with 12 women coming forward to guest post on Quiet Writing in 2017-18. We will create an e-book together on our wholehearted stories to help others discover and share their own.
  • Each story opens the door for others. It might be a blog post, a novel, a poem or a memoir. Telling your story will help you work out so much – just as it will help others to read your experiences.

showing up

11 Write for others, guest post and stretch your audiences

  • Embrace your ability to draw on your experiences and knowledge to write for others such as via guest posting.
  • It’s a way of showing up for yourself because you have to ask yourself: What do I know? What have I experienced? What can I share? How can I help others?
  • It pushes your boundaries, stretches you and helps makes connections across your areas of knowledge and experience.
  • Powerful stuff, it makes you more visible and builds your audience as well. Here’s a guest post I wrote on a subject dear to my heart: leadership, self-leadership, and solitude.

12 Write and publish or self-publish

  • Write with a view to publishing whether it be on your blog, for a publisher or self-publishing.
  • It’s all valid and more than that, it’s a path to ways of earning income, developing your voice and getting your work out there.
  • Over time, I wrote 36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence, a personal narrative of the books that have impacted my story. It’s 25,000 words and is available free for Quiet Writing readers. It’s a gift but I also learned so much from it.
  • Self-publishing is not just vanity publishing anymore; it’s a very real way to be read, build business and skill, and seek further publishing options.
  • As Joanna Penn says on your publishing options:

The publishing world is exploding with opportunity right now…and many authors are finding new ways to build a career with self-publishing, traditional publishing or a hybrid combination of the two.

13 Communicate and connect with others especially kindred creatives

  • Connect with special kindred souls whether it be via your newsletter, in your social media exchanges or through sharing posts and books.
  • Create ways people can communicate with you and be accessible if your aim is visibility.
  • People want to communicate with you as a creative human being however you can make that work for you and others.
  • If you do find someone who you connect with as a kindred creative, reach out to them in some way. It can feel vulnerable, but it’s worth the risk. You never know what might evolve from showing up in this way. Some of my best collaborations and connections have developed from one of us doing exactly that!

14 Commit to working on energy healing and spiritual areas

  • Working on energy healing and spiritual development is integral to personal growth and self-care.
  • I’ve committed to working on my intuitive skills as well as healing and working with guides to support my growth and creativity. I work with the magical energetic healer Amber Adrian.
  • Find what works for you in energy and spiritual realms. Whether it’s prayer, angels, crystals, tarot, oracle, channeling, church or working with the cycles of the moon – working with these connections is supportive in managing our energy, healing, breaking through barriers and being authentic.
  • And it’s time to shed any concerns about what people think about this. As Ruby Warrington says in Material Girl, Mystical World, it’s time to come out of the spiritual closet.

15 Work through a life coaching series 

  • Working through a life coaching series is a fabulous way to show up for yourself and others.
  • Coaching is goal-driven and action-oriented. You’re in the driver’s seat and are responsible for showing up and doing the actions.
  • You can have an excellent coach, but unless you do the work, there won’t be much personal progress.
  • As part of the Beautiful You program, I’ve worked hard on coaching goals of balancing self-care with the care of others and of juggling writing and coaching as twin goals in Quiet Writing.
  • I’ve learned so much too from the experiences of my Pro Bono Life Coaching clients as they have learned through a life coaching series with me.

16 Connect with family members including through family history research

  • Making time for family and ancestry is a way of showing up for yourself and others you are connected with over time.
  • My family and family history is important. I’m committed to understanding the stories of the people who came before me.
  • This helps to keep family, family history research and ancestral connections alive and can teach you so much about yourself and your heritage.

17 Work with or for other people in line with your values

  • Whether it’s paid, pro bono, volunteer, in the home or outside, how are you working with or for other people?
  • How do the experiences and outcomes validate you and show that you are on the right path and have much to give?
  • If it’s not feeling right, how else could you work with and for other people to grow in a different direction?
  • Think about how you are aligned or how you can be better aligned so you can show up for what is of value to you.

18 Work through the practicalities of health and well-being issues

  • Our health is an evolving and changing issue and one we need to honour and show up around, whether it’s in public or private ways. There’s no point putting your head in the sand about your health – physical, emotional and mental health.
  • You don’t have to share what’s not comfortable but on the flip side, if we all stay quiet, what is the impact of this?
  • Consider: How are you showing up on the health issues in your life and how are you addressing them? How are you taking responsibility for any changes and understanding them? What actions are you taking? What support is there? How can you connect with others and with information on health issues? Are you reaching out for help if you need it? How are you showing up for others?
  • As well as caring for my mum who is unwell, I’ve been diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, this year as well as osteoarthritis. I’m asthmatic and the flu hit me twice quite badly. I’m usually well so it’s been a challenge all round!
  • Working through the practicalities of all this with tests, learning, treatments, and reading, I’ve aimed to understand the meaning of these changes in my life.
  • I’m not saying I have it all sorted by any stretch, but being authentic, honest and open about these issues will help me a lot more than pretending they don’t exist.

19 Identify your body of work in the world

  • Whether it’s the job you are in now or the job you are heading to or if you are self-employed or working for others, identify your skills and body of work in the world.
  • Consider: How have you shown up over time in roles and with skills that matter? How have you made a difference? What are the special skills you bring to the world?
  • Think about how you can develop and take this body of work forward to help others.

20 Identify the core themes in your business or life’s work

  • I’ve worked on my new Quiet Writing business and its core concepts – its focus, key tenets, proposed offerings, how I can serve people.
  • I know its focus is ‘wholehearted self-leadership’ based on my own experiences.
  • Being connected, creative, flowing, intuitive and poetic are core values of my brand.
  • Consider: What are the core themes in your business or life’s work? What are the threads that tie this story together? How can you serve others from all that you have learned?
  • Think about how you can show up in your business or creativity to help others.

showing up

Showing up is not just about us

It’s not just about us and our own experiences. Self-leadership is where it starts but each of these actions impacts and enables others. We can never know our full influence. A key part of showing up is trusting that our work makes a difference to others. Whether it’s what we write, our intuitive work, tarot readings shared, social media inspiration, communicating with and caring for loved ones or holding space.

My Tarot Narrative work started as a practice just for me but as I was doing the work, I thought I might as well share it. Each day I receive messages of how my intuitive work helps others. This means so much to me and deepens my commitment and practice.

It starts with each one of us but it’s not all about us. It’s about being of service to others and inspiring others as well.

So share your story…

How are you showing up in the world?

  • Where have you stretched a little this past year to show up, hold space, reach out, learn, put your creative work into the world?
  • When you have showed up and been vulnerable, how did it help others?
  • How could you be a little braver?
  • Where would it be of benefit to show up more?
  • How could your showing up more be helpful to others?

Share your story in the comments below or on IG or Facebook!

Feature image and open door image from

Clivias are in my garden and the flowers were from my mum x

Keep in touch

Sign up + get your free ebook 36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence

Just pop your email in the box to the right or below and ’36 Books’ will be with you soon! It’s a 94-page reflection on the creative influence of what we read. It takes you on a journey through my own influences. Find out which 36 books influenced me and why!

You will also receive updates and opportunities from Quiet Writing and its passions. This includes coaching, writing, creativity, and other connections to help you show up and express your unique voice in the world.

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

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How to step up into our power – Pisces Full Moon Tarot Reading

September 8, 2017

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Now, feel just how you would choose to have your life feel and infuse it with light and power.

Pat Liles, from The Power Path

  Full Moon in Pisces

The Pisces Full Moon invites to step up into our power. This tarot reading reflects on how we can maximise our self-leadership at this time.

Here are some thoughts on this Full Moon in Pisces from Mystic Mamma to set the scene for the energies available to us:

Assimilating into the now, we welcome a watery *FULL MOON* in Pisces. She reminds us to go within and listen to the deep pulsing of our hearts.

Can we hear our unique beat? Can we find our way back to our place of self-recognition, our exhale into ourselves, into our fullness, into the moment as it is? Exactly as it is?

This Full Moon has powerful energies for shifting into our creative heart. It provides opportunities to break old habits and ways of thinking. It’s time to get back to what is important, sacred and wholehearted for each of us now.

Special Pisces Full Moon connections

I felt a special connection with this Full Moon. Being in the Sun sign of Virgo and on my birthday, it flagged particular personal significance. It also connects with the focus of Quiet Writing about being wholehearted and, in this, being of service.

Cathy Pagano highlights the Virgo aspects of this Full Moon period:

At this first Full Moon after the Leo Eclipse…we’re going to dive deep in the Collective Unconscious (Pisces Moon) to see those aspects of life which we’ve neglected and abandoned in favor of our patriarchal need to ‘get ahead’.

As we deal with our shadows, we can figure out how we can be of service (Virgo Sun) to our world.

But before we can be of service, we have to integrate our own body, soul and spirit.

That’s Virgo’s purpose: to integrate all of who we are so we can offer our talents and gifts to the world…

I felt shivers as I read this.

These words sum up my purpose here at Quiet Writing; that is it: “to integrate all of who we are so we can offer our talents and gifts to the world.

My focus here is on wholehearted self-leadership and these energies give us a special time to reflect on and step into our personal power. This includes an emphasis on how we can be of service to others in our work in the world.

This dramatic, transformational energy has been accumulating for a while now. But now we can step it up, with the combination of watery, creative Pisces and practical, efficient Virgo. It’s a perfect time to hone the passions of our true heart. A key part of this is leaving behind what no longer serves us, especially any negative habits of how we think about ourselves.

Pisces Full Moon tarot reading tools:

For my reading for the Pisces Full Moon, I worked with:

This Full Moon in Pisces tarot spread by Sam Roberts aka @escapingstars on Instagram:

Full Moon Pisces

Deck wise, I worked with the Sakki Sakki Tarot deck by Monicka Clio Sakki, my favourite tarot deck especially for questions around creativity.

Tarot reading: 

So here’s the reading:

Full Moon in Pisces tarot

I smiled as the TWO OF SWORDS arrived first up around “What’s bubbling to the surface from the shadowy depths?” It also popped up for my New Moon in Leo/Solar Eclipse reading two weeks ago around what’s blocking me from growing. This card for me is all about thought and feeling, how they come together and feed each other. So I sensed that this reading is all about being at a crossroads and an opportunity to move through.

THE WORLD turning up around how I can better connect emotionally with the world was a lovely synergy. Expansion and how being wholehearted relates to service jumps out as key themes.

There are three Swords cards in all so a big focus on cut-through and words as thoughts, tools, and weapons. And I love that both the first and last cards feature blindfolds, being trapped in some way, possibly of our own doing. This suggests it’s time to break free and the KNIGHT OF SWORDS hints at this energy of riding, moving and being less risk-averse.

The FIVE OF COINS (PENTACLES) and SIX OF RODS (WANDS) are also cards I connect with strongly. They are indicators around how we choose to see the world and what we do with all our experiences, including the challenging ones.

As always, a fabulous tarot narrative with these initial clues – so let’s dive into the fuller reading.

Tarot reading – card by card:

So here are some deeper thoughts, card by card, in relation to the questions. I worked intuitively with the Sakki Sakki tarot guidebook Playing with Symbols and Jessa Crispin’s fabulous book The Creative Tarot. Then connected back with the key energies highlighted for this Full Moon via the Mystic Mamma post and aligned connections.

1 What is bubbling to the surface from the shadowy depths? TWO OF SWORDS

The key message for me with this card in this spot is about the ability to choose between options. This is especially about what we choose to think and feel. When it came up for the New Moon, my thoughts were about “how being guarded comes at a cost” (Sakki Sakki Guidebook p139). This theme continues for this reading.

It could be taking the blindfold off to be able to see more clearly. Or it could be choosing to keep it on to zone out from what’s distracting us, just as we might wear noise-cancelling headphones to concentrate. But having the strength to choose and stop second guessing all the time is important now. How much energy do we chew up about what we can’t change? What effort goes into worrying about what we are unable to influence?

So what’s bubbling up as a force is being more certain and less trapped in our thinking patterns. It signals being more in tune with our feelings.

2 How can I protect myself while still letting down my walls in order to FULLY feel? FIVE OF COINS (PENTACLES)

The FIVE OF COINS exactly captures that feeling of being unprotected. As Jessa Crispin puts it in The Creative Tarot:

You’ve been cast out. Excommunicated. That’s how this card feels, like you’re some kind of leper, and the people around you can’t wait to stick you on an island somewhere and forget about you. You feel lost and unprotected. (p161)

My sense of this card is around choosing to see the positives in any given situation. As the Sakki Sakki guidebook puts it: “Start seeing the full half of the glass, what you do have; and never underestimate your caring relationships and friendships.” (p158)

It is so easy when we have been cut adrift to feel the whole world is a loveless and lonely place. You might be making your own way, especially creatively, and independence has its virtues. But access the help of friends and supporters as you make your way. New connections and those special friends who’ve been there for you over time are of immense value now.  They are ways to protect yourself at this time of vulnerability and forging new roads.

3 What plans do I need to take risks on in order to release any blockages in my way? KNIGHT of SWORDS

The Knight of Swords arrives, brandishing his sword in a somewhat swashbuckling way, to remind me to just get on with it. He reminds me to be less risk-averse in my vulnerability and creativity. I need to follow through with my planned thoughts and actions.

Especially, I need to not fear being innovative and making new connections.

If you’re making a new way in a new world, what ideas are you coalescing? How are you bringing together those unique combinations only you can create? In what ways are you expressing your unique life blend, your onlyness?

Jessa Crispin reminds us:

Swords are words and thoughts, and the Knight of Swords knows how to use his words as weapons…It’s about using your ability to put thoughts and words into action, to sway others, and to encourge dissent. (p241)

It’s a good reminder to review how we are using our words in the context of being of service to others. How are we encouraging, offering support, also being that special friend to others? Where can we use our influence in the world for good and for positive outcomes, to make a difference?

4 What can I incorporate into my life in order to better connect emotionally with the world around me?   The WORLD

I like that THE WORLD came up for this one – a beautifully expansive perspective! In this context, this card speaks of having a sense of completion and mastery. It’s time to realise those lessons learned and take them forward. Gathering all the pieces, steps and parts together, it’s a moment to step up and contribute.

We can stay focused, FIVE OF COINS style, on what we lack, what we’re missing, how we’ve been shut out. Or we can take a look at how far we’ve come in this past year and realise the hard won victories and efforts. And we can celebrate them and see how we can take them forward to help others now.

So the way to better connect emotionally is through a heightened sense of contribution – yours and mine. What can we do with all this learning, this mastery, this completion? How can we apply it to benefit others?


5 What wisdom and guidance is emerging from my old wounds? SIX OF RODS (WANDS)

The SIX OF RODS (WANDS) speaks of rising up especially against obstacles. Your new life is taking shape. All that learning from events and people that wounded or disappointed you is being transformed into wisdom. All that rich experience is being absorbed into the fabric of you, especially the grief-stricken and painful times.

As Jessa Crispin focuses our attention:

That’s the goal here: to use failures, near-misses, and lessons learned in battle, and focus on breaking through to something larger and bolder. (p172)

My favourite words about this card are from The Wild Unknown:

Where will you go with your new set of wings?

six of wands

6 In what ways will awareness of my Self manifest during this Full Moon? EIGHT of SWORDS

Ouch – the EIGHT of SWORDS! All of these swords at the end of the number sequence (8, 9, 10!) don’t always feel so great to receive. But there’s a powerful message here.

The image of the EIGHT of SWORDS shows a woman blindfolded (like the TWO OF SWORDS). She seems to be in a trap of her own making. It’s all in the mind it seems. This card here speaks to me of realising how my thoughts stop me from moving forward. What stories am I telling myself? How are feeling and thought interacting and where I am trapped in old habits of thinking?

The Sakki Sakki guidebook tells us directly:

The Eight of Swords is calling you to break out of restricting habits and thoughts, and to initiate your own well-being and advancement by heightening your awareness of your abilities and options. (p145)

So I need to stop waiting to be rescued and for someone to tell me what to do. In line with the TWO of SWORDS up front, I need to make decisions, be clear and cease the second-guessing. Be informed about options and act on them.

Moreover, it’s a message to save yourself and be self-sufficient, noting the support of others as per the FIVE OF COINS. Trust your judgement, listen within and pay attention to what you are telling yourself. Are you being kind and self-compassionate now as you make huge changes? Are you celebrating being more wholehearted?

Combine that KNIGHT OF SWORDS and SIX of SWORDS energy too. Find ways to create yourself anew and to be in service to others based on your learning.

Ways to step into our personal power

So are your thoughts also around how to step into our personal power, with a balance between self and service?

Here are some practical questions prompted by the Pisces Full Moon and reflections on my reading. They build on the recent Capricorn Full Moon reading around stepping up into our power, shedding what doesn’t help us. They also focus on how we can take our learning forward to support others.

Journal, reflect or brainstorm around these questions to help maximise your personal self-leadership at this time:

  • Where do you need to take the blindfolds off?
  • Alternatively, where is it helpful to turn a blind eye?
  • Where does being indecisive cause you grief and hold you back?
  • What is the reason for this indecision?
  • Where can you focus on seeing the glass half-full right now?
  • How are you honouring and calling on the special supporters in your life?
  • Where have you developed mastery and how can you share that?
  • What wounds or disappointments have you moved on from?
  • How can you celebrate and share the wisdom from this learning?
  • Where are your thoughts keeping you trapped? How can you change them?
  • What habits of thought need to be shaken now?
  • What are the underlying feelings keeping you stuck?
  • How can you acknowledge the feelings and move through?
  • Where are you waiting to be rescued or saved? Why?
  • Who is going to rescue you?
  • What can you do to be more self-sufficient at this time?

Special resources for this time:

Two special resources are waving their hands at this time.

Firstly, Brooke Castillo’s Self Coaching 101, which I featured in Tarot Narratives on Instagram recently, is stepping forward. This book is a great self-help guide to how our thoughts and feelings interact and cause us difficulty. It’s especially good for breaking old thinking/feeling cycles.

Secondly, I listened to the podcast, How to Stop Playing Small, on Hashtag Authentic yesterday. It’s Sara Tasker chatting with author and coach, Tara Mohr, of Playing Big fame. Here’s a key quote from the show notes:

A lot of us have some sort of sinking, subtle awareness that we’re playing small – even if we don’t know exactly what we mean by that. We have this feeling – I’m hiding, I’m holding back, I’m not using my gifts, I’m not really trusting my ideas.

It was such an awesome chat about how we second-guess and doubt ourselves, especially with language. As I wrote here today, I was much more aware of how I used words like, “I think…” “I guess…” and “It’s probably…”, undercutting my message. I then stopped myself and found another way. It was scary how many times this happened. Time to step up and stop that!

I’ve heard a lot about Tara’s book and I must read it. It’s clearly a book for now and for taking those blindfolds off and being more self-trusting.

Wisdom from the Six of Wands

And here is some final wisdom from The Six of Wands via the Art of Life Tarot because it made me laugh and focus on what we need right now!

Six of wands

Enthusiasm, seeing the glass half-full, being supported by our special new and old friends, playing our cards strongly in the world and trusting our visions. It sounds such a positive way forward and all this Full Moon energy is helping to make these big steps.

May you enjoy the unfolding of this time and may your wholehearted self-leadership help you be of service to others!

Fish feature image from and used with permission and thanks.

Keep in touch

Sign up + get your copy of ’36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence’

Just pop your email in the box to the right or below and ’36 Books’ will be with you soon! It’s a 94-page reflection on the creative influence of what we read. It takes you on a journey through my own influences. Find out which 36 books influenced me and why!

You will also receive updates and opportunities from Quiet Writing and its passions in 2017. This includes coaching, creativity and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world.

Quiet Writing is on Facebook – Please visit here and ‘Like’ to keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community. There are regular posts on tarot, intuition, influence, passion, creativity, productivity, writing, voice, introversion and personality type assessment.

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

36 Books that Shaped my Story – Reading as Creative Influence

The unique voice of what we love

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Creative and Connected #8 – ways to honour your unique life blend

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September 4, 2017

How we choose to pay attention, and relate to information and each other shapes who we become, shapes our creative destiny and, in turn, shapes our experience of the world.

Maria Popova, Networked Knowledge and Combinatorial Creativity

creative influenceHere are some thoughts and tips on honouring our special creative influences, connecting them with our passions and taking them forward into new unique endeavours.

Knowing and honouring our creative influences is how we connect with our legacy and passions and take them forward. A key theme in my ebook ‘36 Books that Shaped my Story‘ is an exploration of how creative influences shape us, our world and our own creations.

’36 Books’ goes through a personal journey of reviewing the books that have impacted me over the chronology of my life. I selected key books of influence and ordered them into a sequence. Then I revisited each book and honoured its wisdom and learning, reflecting on the narrative as it unfolded in my life.

The creative influence of what we love

I’ve always been acutely aware of creative influence and how each book I read makes some kind of impact on me. Perhaps it’s my INTJ personality and that mix of Introverted Intuition and Extraverted Thinking; or maybe it’s my language and literature background. But from a young age, I’ve always read deeply, kept notes and chronicled influences – whether it be music, the written word, images or art. Many of us seek ways to capture what influences us, what speaks to us, what leaves a lasting impression in ways that make sense for us.

Think of the musicians or writers, books or songs, that we love. Why of all the musicians and writers do some speak to us so directly and passionately? Why does Daphne Du Maurier – her books, where she lived, everything about her – capture my heart so much? When I hear The Cure’s ‘A Forest’, why do I get all shivery each time I even though I’ve listened to it many times? Why do I cry every time I hear ‘What a Wonderful World’? And why does the song, ‘Witchita Lineman’ do things to the top of my head that I can’t even explain?

And visually, why do artist Edward Hopper’s austere landscapes and solitary figures connect with me so intensely? Why do I feel like I exactly understand ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch? And why does the light in Ansel Adam’s photographs bring me tears?

I guess you could say I’m just sensitive. But all of us have had that feeling of reading, listening, seeing and engaging with all of our senses, witnessing something deep, visceral and connected with an artist, writer or place. Those influences stay with us and they gather, coalesce and merge into something unique within us, connecting with other aspects of our personality and passions.

Combinatorial creativity

In her fabulous Creative Mornings talk, Networked Knowledge and Combinatorial Creativity, Maria Popova explores the notion of creativity as a combination of influences. This is something I’ve long felt and honoured. So it was beautiful to read Popova’s piece articulating this and curating her own influences and thoughts on this concept.

Popova introduces us to the idea of florilegium, from the 14th century. These were:

compilations of excerpts from other writings, essentially mashing up selected passages and connecting dots from existing texts to illuminate a specific topic or doctrine or idea. The word comes from the Latin for “flower” and “gather.”

Popova provides examples of where knowledge or skill in one sphere influenced and sharpened another. For example, novelist Vladimir Nabokov was a butterfly collector which he believed helped with creating detail and precision in his writing.


There are a few concepts tied up in this idea of combinatorial creativity. One is that different areas of knowledge and influence can come together to impact on each other in new ways. Another is that nothing is completely new from the ground up, but more a consequence of influences coming together and how we integrate or collate them in our unique way. And a third is that all that connected knowledge and skill creates a body of mastery we can call on to connect the dots further into new creations.

Books, narrative and story connections

I explore this concept in my ‘36 Books‘ analysis of the books that have impacted me and my narrative:

And story is the shape the words make – the narrative we weave through the body of work that we create through career, our creative endeavours and our passions. This story is unique – no one has read the same books as you in the same way; no one has the same life experiences as you; and you are the only one to combine your passions and experiences in the way that you do.

I focus on books in my exploration but that becomes a filter of so much more. The books we choose to read at any time, their influence on us, the ones that make a huge personal impact and the interaction of this with our context and story, all play critical roles. It’s fascinating to step back and reflect on the books that really moved you and why; the ones you keep close by and why they are always there.

Sage Cohen, whose essay ‘Honor Your Lineage’ in ‘Fierce on the Page‘ ignited my ’36 Books’ journey, talks about books as teachers. Just as special teachers and mentors in our lives impact on us and leave a legacy we take forward, so books are special teachers whose messages we need to honour.

How do you honour your influences?

So how do you honour your influences? I am a big believer in acknowledging my influences and the impact of others on me. I think it’s important to take the time to acknowledge who has influenced and helped you.

’36 Books’ is a deep analysis of this around the books that have shaped my story.  This is something I did also on the post My Seven Stars many years ago which thanked the role models who started me on this journey. It was a feature also of my welcome post when I relaunched my blog as Quiet Writing nearly a year ago. My regular Creative and Connected series here acknowledges the influence of what I’ve listened to and read as well as engaged in via social media. It’s a deep value of mine to acknowledge your influences and their inspiration.

I also believe strongly in acknowledging other’s work you are referring to, drawing from or weaving into your own. Perhaps it’s my academic background with all those essays and bibliographies and references annotated. Though in the workplace too, I would always acknowledge the contribution and influence of others. I’d talk about the outcomes of projects as the collation of the team’s influence as much as any leadership on my part. Such is my antenna about valuing influence.

Tips for knowing, honouring and acknowledging your influences

So here are a few practical tips for knowing, honouring and acknowledging your influences:

1 Take the time to identify your influences: 

  • Pull the books off the shelves that are special influences, collect them and find ways to honour them by writing about them, connecting their messages and spending time listening to what they have brought to you.
  • Collect influences from different genres in your life (music, books, movies) and see how they connect to identify the common themes in your life.
  • Identify the people (eg famous figures, online connections, teachers, family, friends) who have had the most influence on you. Think about the impact and why it was important.

2 Thank your influencers:

  • Publicly or privately (or both), take the time to acknowledge and thank the people who have influenced you for their contribution to your journey.
  • We don’t always know when we are having an influence. Taking the time to tell others of their impact can be something that buoys their creativity for their next effort. It gives strength to their work and channels more energy for their contribution.
  • Sometimes we might not be able to thank people directly. But show gratitude for their work in some way such as acknowledging sources in a written piece. This allows others to learn from them and integrate it into their own creative journey.

3 Acknowledge influence and the source of ideas in your own work

  • If you quote someone else’s words or reference someone else’s thoughts, make sure it’s properly and correctly attributed.
  • Don’t claim others work as your own. Honour the creator by quoting and attributing their words correctly.
  • Don’t be afraid to mention who has influenced you because it’s all part of that rich combination of ideas and dots that brings new connections to life.

4 Wear your influences with pride and originality

  • Boy George was a judge on the ‘The Voice’ television program in Australia recently. He said to one of the contestants after their performance: “You need to wear your influences – they make you who you are.” As you connect the dots of your influences in new ways, wear them in ways only you can to create your unique work in the world.
  • Just as we can dress creatively, putting together different styles like modern and vintage, wear your unique influences confidently and proudly. Make your own Style Statement.
  • Look for connections, common themes and even the tension of opposites as sources of creativity. In this way, you can create your personal signature in how you work and present yourself.

5. Work through jealousy and envy 

  • A huge killer of combinatorial creativity is feeling jealous about the work of others that draws from similar influences. You have a great idea and then you see someone doing a very similar thing. You can feel gutted and overcome with envy.
  • Work through this so your unique perspective is not lost. You might have very similar sets of passions and influences to someone else. But the way they are blended with your unique personality and experiences will always be individual. So find your own way and have confidence in your unique remix and personal style.
  • You could connect with the person and celebrate their strengths. You could share their work, see how you can work together and find new ways to co-create from these shared influences. Acknowledge the envy and work from a sense of abundance, not limited thinking.

thank you

Have the courage to do your own work

At the end of the day, we also need to have the courage to do our own work. The best way we can take all those antecedents and influences forward is to honour them in new creations. Finding ways to identify our special perspective, our niche, our unique way of working is a creative act all of its own.

As Steven Pressfield reminds us in The War of Art:

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.

Sign up + get your copy of ’36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence’

Just pop your email in the box to the right or below and ’36 Books’ will be with you soon! It’s a 94-page reflection on the creative influence of what we read. It takes you on a journey through my own influences. Find out which 36 books influenced me and why!

What are your creative influences?

Ok, so what or who has that visceral effect on you – book, song, movie, author, singer, artist? What has had a huge impact on you and how has it influenced you? Would love to hear!

You can share in the Comments or visit Quiet Writing on Instagram or Facebook.

Keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community. There are regular posts on intuition, influence, creativity, books, productivity, writing, voice, introversion and personality type.

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

36 Books that Shaped my Story – Reading as Creative Influence

The unique voice of what we love

How knowing your authentic heart can make you shine

Creative and Connected #8 – ways to honour your unique life blend

Butterfly image from


inspiration & influence personality and story reading notes

36 Books that Shaped my Story – Reading as Creative Influence

September 1, 2017

My free ebook ’36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence’ celebrates the books we love as our creative legacy and the clues they give as to what is emerging in our story.

The story of ’36 Books that Shaped my Story’

I’m so excited to be launching my ’36 Books’ ebook and sharing the story with you!

When I started working out what to include as a special gift and free ebook here, I wanted something that summed up the heart of Quiet Writing. I wanted to create something that sparked creativity, that shared generously and that provided a springboard for others for their own reflections on their lives and creativity.

And I kept coming back to books – sharing books that made a difference to me, sharing how they influenced me and shaped my life, reflecting on how this can be a source of growth.

Words are at the heart of Quiet Writing – the words we read, the words we write, the words we say to ourselves or another person such as a trusted friend or coach as we form our vision and process our journey. The words we listen to as we read, as we engage with another fully and the words we want to write.

And story is the shape the words make – the narrative we weave through the body of work that we create through career, our creative endeavours and our passions. This story is unique – no one has read the same books as you in the same way; no one has the same life experiences as you; and you are the only one to combine your passions and experiences in the way that you do.

Gathering special books around us

I’ve always gathered special books around me as a sort of altar, a source of strength, a connection to influence, like a wise chorus of silent voices surrounding me. So when I read Sage Cohen’s piece, ‘Honor you lineage’ in her book, Fierce on the Page, it rang special bells of resonance. In her beautiful piece, Sage explains:

I have always been magnetically drawn to the books I need as teachers. Recently I cleared a shelf and, with great reverence, placed on it the books I most love – the ones that have shaped me in the way that water shapes stones, almost imperceptibly over time.

She invites us to gather the books we most love around us and to sit with them and appreciate how they have influenced our vision and sense of direction, especially in our writing life.

And importantly, she flags that in the light and strength of these books and words, the heart of what we want to write is lingering:

I wonder if that’s really all our writing asks of us: to know what we love, to listen, and to give ourselves over to what presents itself.

So that’s what I did – I gathered the special books that have shaped me over time and spent time with each of them, honouring what they have brought to me. And it became a fascinating and deep exercise. Choosing them, remembering what they have given me, unpacking and unravelling it a little more, organising it into a continuum and seeing how it fitted in the context of my life – was an insightful joy. And I learnt so much about myself and the recurring themes in my life.

It became a deep excavation and navigation of what I love and how it drives me.

And that is the heart of Quiet Writing – it’s about gathering the threads of our lives, finding the connecting pieces and weaving them together.

I communicate this heart and this spirit, through writing and life coaching, the twin hearts of Quiet Writing, so we can work with it in a supportive way to shine. For when we find those connecting pieces, those values, those desires, those long held passions and values, they can help us negotiate the next phase more successfully and work out what we really want to do and feel.

What to expect in ’36 Books that Shaped my Story’

So what can you expect in ’36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence’? It starts with a personal essay about the rationale and process and draws the threads of the experiment and experience together into key themes.

The second part then tracks through each of the 36 books individually and shows how they appeared in the context of my life and the legacy and influence they have provided. There are also suggestions as to why you might want to read each book.

Taken overall, the book shows how the books you love can be:

  • a source of writing inspiration
  • a narrative for your life
  • a timeline for reflection
  • prompts for memoir
  • a way of gathering evidence about your body of work over time
  • a way of understanding what you really love
  • a way of noticing the key themes of your life, and
  • the key to the influences that are your guiding light.

I think will find it a valuable read about the value of books and reading as creative influence and as a way of finding clues to help you enrich your quiet writing life.

How to get your copy of ’36 Books’

So if you already a Quiet Writing subscriber, the link will already be with you in your inbox via the ‘Beach Notes’ monthly message I have sent out.

If you are not already a subscriber, make sure you sign up to connect and receive ’36 Books’. Just sign up to the right or bottom on this page and the ebook will be with you in no time.

You will also receive my regular ‘Beach Notes’ newsletter full of inspiration about books, writing, story, narrative, voice, personality and all things quiet writing to inspire you. You will also be the first to know about Quiet Writing life coaching, guest posting and e-course opportunities when they are available.

I hope you enjoy ’36 Books’. It’s an opportunity for us to reflect on and share our thoughts on reading, books, creativity, influence, story, narrative and writing. These are all fabulous inspirations central to Quiet Writing and the community here.

I can’t wait to hear your feedback – happy reading and reflection!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

How to read for more creativity, pleasure and productivity

Being ‘Fierce on the Page’ – a book review

On the art and love of reading

How to craft a successful life on your own terms

Quiet Writing

inspiration & influence introversion reading notes

Creative and Connected #10 – in praise of comfort reading

August 18, 2017

Comfort reading is a ritual, like worry beads or a nice hot cup of cocoa at bedtime. It relies on repetition and familiarity. It makes unbearable times bearable.

Jane Sullivan

Turning Pages – The authors you read when you need a bit of comfort

comfort reading

Here’s a round-up of what I’ve enjoyed and shared this week on comfort reading. Find out about the comfort books people read and reread, and why!

Anyone else had a tough week and feeling in need of some comfort reading? I’m not sure if it’s Mercury Retrograde, the Eclipse Season, the Balsamic Moon, or a combination of all three right now, but it feels a perfect time to hunker down with a good book.

All this energy made the words ‘comfort reading’ come to me – that revisiting of the books we love and that special genre or author that just makes us go ‘ahhhh’ and rest up, all cosy, hot chocolate or cup of tea in hand.

So here are some links and thoughts on comfort reading including my favourite comfort reads as we head into the weekend with all this fairly intense energy. So if you’re feeling unwell or just in need of some rest and respite, here is some inspiration for reading, comfort style.

I hope you find some time to rest and read. Would love to hear about your comfort reading preferences and practices too!

Podcast on comfort reading

A podcast that features and praises comfort reading is:

Reading the End Podcast Episode 10

There’s a great list of books on the show notes plus thoughts on what makes a comfort book. The hosts reinforce that there are different categories of comfort books: ones that put things in order eg. Georgette Heyer books; episodic books that don’t require so much effort; books for when you are sad and books that represent ‘wholesome olden times’! They include one of my comfort book authors, Rumer Godden. It’s a fun listen and a great list! It reinforces that comfort reads are contextual and different for everyone, though there may be common themes and authors that reappear.

There were surprisingly few podcasts on this important issue!

Another option is to let the guys on The Casual Academic do the reading for you and read along when you can or just learn from them. I really enjoy this podcast when I just want to listen and learn about literary fiction but I’m finding it hard to do as much reading as I would like in the genre. Always interesting and educational, as well as fun, I’m sure having a laugh is important in this type of reading.

comfort reading

Books and reading notes

My reading week

In line with my recent post on reading more productively and the accountability here, I finished David Whyte’s Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity. This was a very special read that will stay with me for a long time. There’s so much richness on work life and our identity as we express it through work and how we can be lost and found there. It’s a book I will continue to revisit and explore.

I’ve started reading Sharon Blackie’s If Women Rose Rooted: The Journey to Authenticity and Belonging in hard copy and also Spitting Blood: The History of Tuberculosis by Helen Bynum as an ebook. Both very different reads, but fascinating in their own way.

I’ve also been really hard at work reading my own ebook ’36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence’ as I prepare to send it out into the world to Quiet Writing subscribers!

Book and blog notes on this week’s theme of comfort reading

It was fun to explore what other people have said about comfort reading and their suggestions. But first, my favourite comfort reads.

I love a book that I can just curl up inside, a setting that I love, a love story or psychological engagement, something that takes me into people’s lives as I watch the events and relationships unfold. I like the warmth of people connecting or a narrative that takes me into a place where I can just be or watch, especially engaging with character and place.

So here are my comfort reads and authors:

Maeve Binchy

A long-time love, there’s just something so cosy about curling up with a Maeve Binchy book. They are all wonderful; the ones that come to mind are: Tara Road, Quentins, Circle of Friends, Evening Class and A Week in Winter. I love how the characters often reappear as familiar faces across different novels. They’re grounded in a spirit of realism as well, as Maeve Binchy explains:

I don’t have ugly ducklings turning into swans in my stories. I have ugly ducklings turning into confident ducks. 

Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes has become more famous with Me Before You which came out as a movie. This is fabulous as she is an excellent writer and I love stepping into the world of her books. All her narratives have that sense of comfort in story and love engagements but in various settings and environments. Enjoy any or all of: The Ship of Brides, Silver Bay, Peacock Emporium, Foreign Fruits, Silver Bay, Night Music, The Girl You Left Behind and The Last Letter Your Lover. 

Daphne Du Maurier

I’ve shared my love of Daphne Du Maurier and especially my favourite novel, Rebecca. My Cousin Rachel is a great read too and enjoying attention due to the recent film adaptation. But also really engaging are The House on the Strand, Don’t Look Now and other Stories and The Birds and other Stories. Du Maurier’s short stories are especially good reads when you just want a shorter bite.

comfort reading

Liz Fenwick

Being a great lover of Cornwall, Liz Fenwick’s novels are often my first choice when I’m looking for a holiday read or just want a relaxing chill-out read. I love books that take me to special places and Fenwick’s novels are enjoyable and engaging reads with a mix of love, family history, intrigue and Cornish landscape. I’ve enjoyed: The Cornish House, A Cornish Affair, A Cornish Stranger and Under a Cornish Sky.

Rumer Godden

Rumer Godden is another special author whose books I seek out when I’m needing comfort. My preferred stories seem to be ones like The Black Narcissus and In This House of Brede that involve nuns and the drama and personality of cloistered communities. They are books I reread and enjoy, often at times of illness and bedrest!

comfort reads


Blog/Twitter/Instagram posts and interactions:

For thoughts on comfort reading, here are some excellent posts:

Booksellers share their best comfort reads and tips, via Readings a fabulous Aussie bookshop, including fantasy, Agatha Christie, Harry Potter, poetry and Anne of Green Gables (a recurrent recommended comfort read!)

In The appeal of comfort reading, Psychologies Magazine explores what makes a comfort read we return to:

‘I can read it over and over again,’ people said, and perhaps that is the most important thing of all. Like prayers, our comfort reading becomes a ritual. I may find something new in the Anne [of Green Gables] books every time, but the words themselves never change. Our comfort reads are talismans, touchstones, that will never let us down.

In The Irish TImes, The Guyliner postulates on why he reads the same books over and over again:

They’re not cerebral, they’re not impressive, but they wrap themselves around me every moment, even when I’m not reading.

Rebecca is one of the books he returns to, with such a beautiful response to it:

Gloomy and glamorous and beautifully written, I always come back to Rebecca. I never want it to end, and always wish we could find out what happens next. With each reading, I will the second Mrs de Winter to tell Mrs Danvers to sod off, to speak up and be confident, to enjoy her time as the lady of Manderley. But, of course, she never does – she can only be herself.

In Turning Pages: The authors you read when you need a bit of comfort, Jane Sullivan says that comfort reading is a ritual and notes the authors who pop up consistently: Raymond Chandler and L M Montgomery (of Anne of Green Gables fame). Of Raymond Chandler, she says:

It worked because I knew that voice. I’d read the book before, I’d seen the movie, I knew what was going to happen. And the voice took me into a familiar world: guns, hooch, faded glamour, treacherous dames in seamed stockings, telephones on the wall, guys wearing hats and trenchcoats in the warm California rain.

Sarah Bessey shares 10 books she reads over and over. It’s a fabulous list and includes Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible and Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden.

In Comfort Books. Is this even a thing? The Bloggess queries why her comfort books are “full of murder and angst and bizarreness and are not really what anyone in the world would consider to be a happy or relaxing read.”

It seems we revisit books for all kinds of reasons and different ways of sourcing comfort. Do share your thoughts on your comfort reads in the comments or on Instagram or Facebook – would love to hear!

On Quiet Writing and Tarot Narratives

On Quiet Writing this week, we explored the art of efficient blog post writing in a guest post by Benjamin Brandall, How to write a blog post when you have almost no time. It’s been really well-received, providing practical strategies for being organised with blog posts and getting the actual writing done.

My Tarot Narratives on Instagram have continued to be a rich source of inspiration and insight for my creative journey. Thanks for all the interactions! Twyla Tharp’s reminder today, from The Creative Habit, was around working environments and habit:

In the end, there is no one ideal condition for creativity. What works for one person is useless for another. The only criterion is this: Make it easy on yourself. Find a working environment where the prospect of wrestling with your muse doesn’t scare you, doesn’t shut you down. It should make you want to be there, and once you find it, stick with it. To get the creative habit, you need a working environment that’s habit forming. (p17)

Have a fabulous creative weekend!

comfort reads

Creative and Connected is a regular post each Friday and the previous posts are below. I hope you enjoy it. I would love any feedback via social media or comments and let me know what you are enjoying too.

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Keep in touch

Subscribe via email (see the link at the top) to make sure you receive updates from Quiet Writing and its passions in 2017. This includes MBTI developments, coaching, creativity and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world. My free e-book on the books that have shaped my story is coming soon for subscribers only – so sign up to be the first to receive it!

Quiet Writing is on Facebook – Please visit here and ‘Like’ to keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community. There are regular posts on intuition, influence, creativity, productivity, writing, voice, introversion, and personality including Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

Creative and Connected #9 – on the art and love of reading

Creative and Connected #8 – ways to honour your unique life blend

Creative and Connected #7 – how to craft a successful life on your own terms

Creative and Connected #6 – how to be a creative entrepreneur

Creative and Connected #5 – being accountable to ourselves and others

inspiration & influence planning & productivity reading notes

Creative and Connected #9 – on the art and love of reading

August 12, 2017

Read in order to live.

Gustave Flaubert


Here’s a round-up of what I’ve enjoyed and shared this week on various social platforms on the art and love of reading. My post on How to read for more creativity, pleasure and productivity has been really well received this week. Thank you so much for the feedback about how this post has inspired thoughts about reading practices. Above all, it was so lovely to connect with kindred souls who share my passion for reading.

So to further share that joy, here are some podcasts and reads that celebrate the art and love of reading.

Podcasts on the history, art and love of reading

I listened to two podcasts about reading this week and they were perfect counterpoints about the historical contexts of reading and current ways to enjoy reading.

In Our Time: Culture – Reading – BBC Radio 4

In this discussion from 2000, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of the politics and practice of reading. The podcast covers the history of reading in social and political contexts with a particular emphasis on how women were banned from reading in times past and how it was seen as a trivial activity for them. This historical perspective makes you realise how far we have come. I always feel a responsibility to take these hard-won rights forward.

Guinevere de la Mare and the Silent Book Club – on the Secret Library Podcast with Caroline Donahue

This was such a great podcast chat on a movement I had completely missed – the Silent Book Club. Developed in response to the occasional pressure and social nature of book clubs, Silent Book Clubs involve just turning up together to a venue and reading. It emanated from Guinevere turning up with friends to a bar and just reading over a glass of wine. And this is the flavour behind the Silent Book Club. With Chapters growing all over the world, it’s a word of mouth trend that celebrates just sitting in a public place with others and reading. I can’t actually think of anything more appealing right now. Introverts unite! I notice there is no Australian branch so I think I’ll start a Sydney one – if any local people are interested, let me know. Happy days!




Books and reading notes

My reading week

In line with my post this week and reading more and the accountability here, I finished two books I’ve had underway recently. Jojo Moyes’ Paris for One was such a fun read, full of chance encounters that result in quirky life changes and fresh perspectives. I loved the last story especially.

I finished listening to The Writer’s Guide to Training Your Dragon, by Scott Baker as an audio book. As a result, I’m weaving dictation into my days via my iPhone and Mac Pro as I work. It’s so easy and a stepping stone to using dictation more fully for writing and transcription.

I’ve continued savouring David Whyte’s Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity in a slow read (probably too slow) on work and identity. It does, however, feel like it’s mirroring my life, so maybe there’s a reason for the slowness of my reading, so my life can keep time. A favourite quote this week:

To find good work, no matter the path we have chosen, means coming out of hiding. Good work means visibility. (p146)


Book notes on this week’s theme of the art and love of reading

Alberto Manguel is an author to savour on the art and love of reading.

His  A History of Reading takes us into the heart of the experience of reading through a series of interconnected essays. It focuses on his personal response to reading from all angles, such as: learning to read, picture reading, being read to and reading from various standpoints such as translator and author. It’s a beautiful reflection and treasure trove on reading.

In ‘A Reading Diary: A Year of Reading Favourite Books’, Manguel decides to reread some of his favourite books, one month at a time. It’s a journey over a year, blending memoir, journal writing and reviewing into a reflective reading experience. There’s a lovely review of this book here.

One thing I have found as I revisited my books about books and reading this past week is that the authors are all so witty and funny.

A favourite book of mine in this genre is the fabulous Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, by Anne Fadiman. This 1998 book was recommended to me by a fellow bibliophile and it’s a book of essays celebrating the love of books. It’s so very funny in the way that only a book lover can appreciate. My favourite essay is ‘Marrying Libraries’ about how Anne and her husband are merging their book collections into one after a time together and the conflict and negotiations that ensue. So many great thoughts and laughs:

Books wrote our life story, and as they accumulated on our shelves (and on our windowsills, and underneath our sofa, and on top of our refrigerator), they became chapters in it themselves. How could it be otherwise?

I’m a huge Nick Hornby fan. No other writer makes me laugh out loud as much, and so I was delighted to stumble across his collection of essays on reading, first published in the US Believer Magazine. The Complete Polysyllabic Spree is the full collection of these 28 monthly essays on the books he has bought and read. I just smile the whole way through reading these essays. They are a romp through reading, including the classics, with humour as the connecting thread.

Some of Nick’s thoughts:

If reading books is to survive as a leisure activity – and there are statistics to show that this is by no means assured – then we have to promote the joys of reading, rather than the (dubious) benefits.


I’m a writer, and I need to read, for inspiration and education and because I want to get better, and only books can teach me how.

In terms of novels about books and love of books as a connecting factor, there are two main ones that stand out for me:

84 Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff – My copy has disappeared, ironically, but it’s a slim volume celebrating books as a connecting piece between people, in this case, a London antiquarian bookseller and a New York based reader. Based on the true story of their connection and exchange of letter over nearly 20 years, it’s a celebration of books, reading and the connections they inspire.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer – This book is focused on post-war Guernsey and is told entirely through letters between various correspondents. It tells the story of connections between columnist Juliet Ashton and the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, as they live under German occupation. Mary Ann Shaffer wrote this book, her first novel, when she was 70. Sadly, she didn’t get to see it in print. It’s a heart-warming story of friendship, love and books across the miles.


Blog/Twitter/Instagram posts and interactions:

On the art and love of reading, Joanna Penn’s post on Habits of a Book Junkie in a Digital Age is excellent on digital reading strategies and trends including how to review books.

I shared the beautiful piece by Kerstin Pilz, on Tiny Buddha, How a 10 day silent retreat helped heal my grieving heart last week. Inspired by Katherine Bell’s guest post here: Our Heart Always Knows the Way, the first of our Wholehearted Stories series, Kerstin has written a fabulous post on how life change is all about hard work and not luck in Why luck had nothing to do with my self-directed life.

On Instagram, there’s been plenty of activity around Susannah Conway’s The August Break focused around noticing, community and inspiration. Yesterday’s prompt was lavender. Not being able to think of any lavender in my immediate surroundings, I went back to my recent iphone shots and found this skyscape I had forgotten about:



Another thought would have been the Murasaki-Shikibu lavender ink I write with every day – I thought of this hours after! It’s a great month of prompts for noticing and seeing afresh, also connecting with special memories, sacred objects and new people.

I also shared that my favourite novel is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Here’s me thinking it’s an unusual choice. Clearly not, when it’s been voted UK’s favourite book from the past 225 years. I’m so glad so many people are discovering its pleasures!

On Quiet Writing and Tarot Narratives

On Quiet Writing, we have been exploring the art and love of reading in the post on How to read for more creativity, pleasure and productivity

Here are some other relevant posts on Quiet Writing on books and reading:

“You are the authority on you” – a review of Danielle LaPorte’s White Hot Truth

Reading Australian Women Writers in 2017

Being ‘Fierce on the Page’ – A Book Review

My Tarot Narratives on Instagram have continued to be a rich source of inspiration and insight for my creative journey. Thanks for all the creative interactions. Thomas Moore’s SoulMates keeps popping up lately. Here was a key quote that emerged:

I’m not suggesting that all psychological experience is interior, but it’s clear that the dynamics, dramas, and characters of the individual soul play themselves out in the external world, so that relationship is always a dialectic between inner and outer, a dance between actual people and one’s own life of the soul.

Have a fabulous creative weekend!

Creative and Connected is a regular post each Friday and the previous posts are below. I hope you enjoy it. I would love any feedback via social media or comments and let me know what you are enjoying too.

Feature image via

Image 2 of ‘Compartment C, Car 193‘ 1938, by Edward Hopper, in Edward Hopper by Rolf Gunter Renner, Taschen

Image 4 of ‘The Quiet Room’ c1929by Sir George Clausen from ‘The Reading Woman’ Calendar 2017

Keep in touch

Subscribe via email (see the link at the top) to make sure you receive updates from Quiet Writing and its passions in 2017. This includes MBTI developments, coaching, creativity and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world. My free e-book on the books that have shaped my story is coming soon for subscribers only – so sign up to be the first to receive it!

Quiet Writing is on Facebook – Please visit here and ‘Like’ to keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community. There are regular posts on intuition, influence, creativity, productivity, writing, voice, introversion and personality including Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

Creative and Connected #8 – ways to honour your unique life blend

Creative and Connected #7 – how to craft a successful life on your own terms

Creative and Connected #6 – how to be a creative entrepreneur

Creative and Connected #5 – being accountable to ourselves and others

inspiration & influence planning & productivity reading notes

How to read for more creativity, pleasure and productivity

August 7, 2017


People have asked me how I get so much reading done. Here are my strategies for how to read for more creativity, pleasure and productivity.

On Quiet Writing, we share the threads that tie our wholehearted stories together. They can be passions, skills, values – anything we go back to over and over again in different ways.

One of the key golden threads that ties my story together is reading and a passionate love of books. My life has been a mosaic of loving reading, learning about it, teaching it and sharing this love with others.

In this post, I share my reading story and background in teaching reading and sharing its joys and skills. I reflect on my current approaches, providing strategies for reading more broadly and effectively for creative purposes and pleasure.

My reading story

I wrote in my last Creative and Connected about our unique blend and how the skills and experience we bring together make up our onlyness and contribution to the world. When I reflect on my onlyness, the art of reading, teaching people to read at and sharing this love shines out.

As a child I always loved books. I can remember being at school in Year 1 reading a story about The Cutty Sark. It’s my first memory of being a fluent, independent reader. I grew up in a house full of books and my father was an avid reader. On holidays, I can remember him reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and The Source by James A Michener. He read Australian classics to me when I was young – Blinky Bill and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and those stories still resonate.


I excelled at English, especially exploring books deeply and writing essays about them. I was headed for a career in journalism and communications but was put off by the more extraverted side of this. So I studied English and Education instead, enabling me to develop my love of reading and literature and also learn to share it. I studied primary education and focused on literacy. My Honours year featured research on literacy and language structures in early readers and whether they encouraged children to enjoy reading. I also researched the poetic reading experience and whether educators fostered a love of reading poetry.

Later, I completed a Diploma in Adult Education specialising in literacy. This focused on adults who had missed out on the ability to read and write well in their first language or who needed to learn it in English as another language. For nearly 20 years I taught in this field, teaching everything from how to read signs to working with apprentices on their trade courses to teaching speed reading and reading for tertiary and academic purposes. I gained a Masters in Language and Literacy specialising in English for Speakers of Other Languages where I learnt all about genre and social contexts.

Then, I became a leader in adult vocational education including working on strategic policy and advising Ministers and Government. My reading was all policy documents, reports, media and many emails! I also read about leadership, mentoring, competencies of leadership and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as I built my leadership and self-leadership skills especially as an introvert.

And through all this time, I read for more personal enjoyment: for pleasure, for information and for productivity. I love to mix reading novels with reading that is more about personal development, learning and knowledge. Being an INTJ Myers-Briggs Type, Introverted Intuition is a dominant function. The ideas and symbols from books are a central organising principle in both my inner and outer life with pretty much everything stemming from that quiet reading time.

The many skills of being able to read

As my background shows, there are many skills of being able to read and many ways in which it plays out. Here are just some examples:

  • functional reading – to get around and meet the basic needs of society
  • content reading – reading for vocational areas, for a purpose such as a course
  • reading for pleasure – focused on the pure experience and enjoyment of reading and books
  • reading for information – reading to research, gain ideas, summarise, scan and skim
  • academic reading – skills of reading literature and articles to summarise, argue a point, write an essay and come up with something new
  • reading for social media – scanning, reviewing, liking, responding, connecting, visual reading
  • reading for strategic purposes – policy, strategy, positioning, influencing, persuasion

And the truth is, we often mix them up to suit our reading purpose.

There’s also a kind of reading linked to creativity and productivity and ‘reading like a writer’. It’s something I am finding myself thinking about as I step into more fully embracing my writing life. It’s as if we need to bring all the many skills of being able to read together and apply them in a new way. This is especially so in this environment of social media and technological choices around how we read. So what does it mean to ‘read like a writer’?


Reading like a writer

Novelist V E Schwab takes the role of reading seriously in her job as a writer. In an interview on Caroline Donahue’s The Secret Library Podcast, she says:

About two/three years ago, I decided I wasn’t reading enough. I was really busy and I couldn’t find time…At the beginning of the interview I said “it’s not about finding time, it’s about making it.” And I realised that reading is a fundamental part of my job and not just in the, “Oh I need to know what else is selling and what else on the shelves.” It’s a fundamental part of becoming a better writer…”

V E Schwab describes a ‘story monster’ that lives inside her chest and the more stories she takes in, the cleverer it gets. The story monster provides intuitive guidance when writing, like a barometer, enabling her to feel the story. Reading broadly is the best way to ‘feed’ the story monster, and is a critical input into the writing process. She explains:

So I decided that reading needed to be treated like any other part of my job and needed to be something that I made time for, a commitment. And so I set out to read one hundred books a year. I always have one paperback, I always have an e-book and I always have an audiobook….I’m continually accompanied by narratives….It’s still difficult, I still have to work at it…but I’m just committed to it.

You can read V E Schwab’s summary of her year in reading for 2016 here. This interview and her committed approach to reading made me think about my own practices. It really helped me to hone my thinking about the various reading skills we bring into play, how we can vary our reading for creativity, pleasure and productivity and read like a writer.



How to read for more creativity, pleasure and productivity

Some of the hallmarks of reading for more creativity, pleasure and productivity including reading like a writer include: setting a target, accountability, variety, intent, making the most of the opportunity to read and making time.

Here are some strategies for reading for more creativity, pleasure and productivity. They are based on my knowledge and experience as well as tips from other committed readers including V E Schwab, Joanna Penn, Gabriella Pereira and Nick Hornby:

1 Read across different book formats

In line with V E Schwab’s strategy, read across book formats – hard copy, ebook and audiobook. I find I read differently and choose specific types of books for each format.  I tend to use ebooks when I want to really study a book and make electronic highlights and notes. I’m listening to audiobooks on writing techniques and business for authors. And I like to relax and read for pleasure with the hard copy of a book in my hand. You can autosynch between devices including between ebook and audiobook. You might decide to go pretty well all digital as Joanna Penn has done. Find out what you like to read and how and mix it up!

2 Make time for reading

All the committed readers I know including myself make time for reading. They don’t watch a lot of television or they get rid of the TV altogether. Or they get used to reading with distractions! Social media is another time waster that takes away our reading time, so monitor that carefully. Find a way to weave reading into activities like driving and walking via audio books. It’s simply a case of committing to reading more and putting the strategies in place to make it happen.

3 Commit to reading goals for the year

One strategy that helps is to set a reading goal for the year such as 100 books a year as V E Schwab has done. You can also join book clubs or reading challenges with goals such as the Australian Women Writers Reading Challenge I have participated in over a number of years. I’m aiming to read 52 books this year. I know I need to be more organised in tracking my progress to this goal. I’m also aware I do a lot of reading that is not related to completing a book, but it’s still a goal worth shooting for or extending beyond.

4 Be accountable to your reading goals

Once you’ve set the goal, be accountable to it. My Creative and Connected posts each week are an opportunity to check in on my reading. It’s amazing how quickly the week rolls around and just being accountable keeps me focused. I could perhaps include a goal and tracking in my Creative and Connected post as a way of keeping an eye on progress and being more accountable. You can also keep track of your reading via Goodreads.

5 Read more than one book at a time

Probably one of the big changes in my reading habits is that I no longer read one book at a time. Reading across different formats has helped to break this limiting way of thinking. I’m now reading about 4 or 5 books at once. I read across formats depending on the circumstances. And I can pick up the book that best suits the time I have – like reading to relax at the end of the day rather than speeding up the mind with ideas. It might not be for everyone and there are times when you might want to read one book at a time, but it’s worth experimenting with.

6 Read across genres (mix it up)

Linked to both #1 and #5 is reading across genres and across fiction and non-fiction. There’s a fabulous list of genres here. V E Schwab reminds us of the value of reading broadly. If you’re writing a novel, read both inside and outside the genre you are writing in for new perspectives. If you like historical fiction, read the occasional fantasy novel. Have both fiction and non-fiction books on the go at once so you can choose what suits the moment best. Even if you love literary fiction, have lighter novels available to you so you can keep reading when you are not quite up to the more intense read.

7 Stop reading a book you don’t like 

Another habit I’ve learnt to break is feeling that I need to finish a book even if I don’t like it. Nick Hornby in Stuff I’ve Been Reading says: “Read what you enjoy, not what bores you.” And in The Complete Polysyllabic Spree, he says of a boring book: “Please, please: put it down. You’ll never finish it. Start something else.” It’s good advice. It only slows you down and wastes your time.

8 Read actively: highlight, take notes, make reading lists

Reading actively helps keep you engaged so highlight, underline and take notes. Ebook options make it easy to highlight electronically and keep these documents as a single record. I keep notes in a large Moleskine journal too if I am reviewing a book, such as when I wrote about White Hot Truth. This more intensive reading can be time-consuming but it rewards you many times over in return as you engage deeply with an author’s message. In DIY MFA, Gabriela Pereira suggests actively making reading lists just as you would in a formal MFA (Master of Fine Arts) program.

9 Share your reading experiences

Share your reading experiences whether it be on Instagram, your blog or on Goodreads. Write reviews, share quotes, celebrate your library, participate in reading challenges, blog about genres that you love and why. Through my daily Tarot Narrative, I link books to a tarot story for the day which helps me to revisit the books in my library and share value from them. Others are appreciating this connection! Social media has been such a boon for sharing reading experiences, finding out about new books and reminding us of what we love.

10 Read like a writer

Gabriela Pereira in DIY MFA says that “Reading like a writer is like trying to figure out how a magician performs his tricks.” V E Schwab suggests a similar view on this when she talks about her ‘story monster’. It’s really about getting behind the scenes, under the hood and getting a feel for the narrative or structure of non-fiction. As Pereira goes onto say:

Because the moment you figure out how the author pulled off her trick, you’ll be able to start applying it to your own work.

11 Read about reading 

And finally, read about reading and take the time to reflect on your reading journey just as I have done here. Seek out books that help you take a meta view of your reading patterns and skills and how to extend them. Connect with those that seek to spread the pleasure and joy of reading through reviews and sharing information about books.

I’m preparing two special reads about reading coming soon:

  • Creative and Connected this Friday will feature a round up of books about reading and celebrating reading: the art, history, process and joy of it. So look out for that!
  • I’m working on a free ebook on reading as creative influence. It’s about the books that have influenced my story, so sign up to Quiet Writing to be the first to receive it once it’s released this month! Just pop your email in the box on the right.

And whilst I’ve talked about reading more in some ways, it’s not always about quantity. Reading more creatively, productively and enjoying it is always a valuable goal, regardless of volume. A message that resonated in my recent coaching training is to honour our spend, making sure we carve out space to apply what we read and implement the knowledge.

Thanks for reading. I hope this has been useful and of interest.  

Share your thoughts on how you read more or differently for reading, creativity and pleasure – would love to hear! You can respond via the Comments here or on Facebook.


inspiration & influence personality and story

Creative and Connected #8 – Ways to honour your unique life blend

August 4, 2017

Onlyness is that thing that only that one individual can bring to a situation. It includes the journey and passions of each human.

Nilofer Merchant

unique blend

Inspiring resources to keep you creative and connected – this week with a focus on ways to honour your unique blend or onlyness.

Here’s a round-up of what I’ve enjoyed and shared this week on various social platforms on finding and honouring your unique blend of passions, skills and experience. A term for this, created by Nilofer Merchant, is ‘onlyness’. Whatever we call it, it’s about how you bring the threads of your unique personality, experience together so you can shine and have impact as only you can.

Finding my unique blend

I’ve been on a journey of transition over the past year, seeking to shift to a life focused around Life Coaching and Writing and feeling more wholehearted each day.

In going through this journey, I’ve really had to do think about the unique skills, knowledge and experience that I bring forward from my previous roles and experience. It’s so easy to leave pieces of ourselves behind as we seek to change. But all those pieces of who we are make up our uniqueness or onlyness in the world.

Nilofer asks in her 2012 TED Talk on this theme:

Who are you? What makes you so unbelievably special? What is it that calls you into this world and how can you bring it out so other people can see it. When we learn to stand in our onlyness, we actually celebrate the kickassness that we are. And that to me is the key. How do we unlock that part of us that is so kickass. And so incredibly different and our story to bring into the world. Because when we do that it will unlock that part of us to be more fully alive.

She further comments on her talk on her website saying:

It’s not that everyone will, but that anyone can contribute.

And until we celebrate onlyness, we are not honoring the person. And, until you unlock your onlyness, you are not fully alive. And, collectively, until we honor onlyness, we are limiting ourselves, our organizations and our economies.

So in the spirit of helping us all unlock that ‘kickassness’, here are some recent and favourite resources and references on this theme.

And I welcome your contributions in the comments or on Facebook or Instagram about your favourite resources for bringing our unique stories, onlyness and blend of life alive. Let’s share so we all can shine!

Podcasts on honouring your unique life blend

How to Turn Ideas into Impact with OnlynessNilofer Merchant on Jonathan Fields Good Life Project

The whole concept of bringing together the threads of our story is a central part of Quiet Writing and being wholehearted. In the Beautiful You Coaching Academy program that I have just finished, we worked through the concept of ‘onlyness’ and our unique blend of skills as a central thread in the course. And I’d been working through this with my coach as well before I started my life coaching program.

But I hadn’t really concentrated on the work of Nilofer Merchant until this week! I love Jonathan Field’s podcast, it’s always full of treasures and this one was a beautiful one to be brought to my attention. So I bring it to yours!

This conversation is all about our unique capacity to make a big impact to change the world. As the show notes point out, especially with social media and technological change,

….we’re living in times that, maybe for the first time ever, have made it possible for people who’ve been marginalized, disenfranchised and stripped of power to bring forth and build momentum around ideas that, in her words, are mighty enough to “dent the world.

Merchant believes that everyone can contribute and:

The fact that we don’t is society’s greatest problem and the greatest opportunity.

The TED Talk is awesome too, so I encourage you to listen and reflect on your onlyness and unique blend of skills.

Your Body of Work with Pam Slim – The Creative Giant Show with Charlie Gilkey

Pamela Slim is another fabulous champion of finding our unique blend of skills and body of work. Pam’s work focuses on identifying the special ingredients that thread together in our lives. She especially looks at how they have played out over the long term through our body of work.

Pam talks with Charlie Gilkey about transitions and how we find work that is significant for our unique blend of skills and the mode of life that serves this. This might be creative entrepreneurship or any way of building a business around values that are important to us.

Books and reading notes

My reading week

I’ve continued reading David Whyte’s Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity on work and identity. This book also featured in Our Heart Always Knows the Way – a wholehearted story on Quiet Writing this week.

I’m also enjoying Jojo Moyes’ Paris for One. I love Jojo Moyes and have read pretty well all her books and this is a fun, relaxing read that has kept me quietly smiling.

I’ve also continued reading The Writer’s Guide to Training Your Dragon, by Scott Baker as an audio book. As a result, I’ve started using dictation for my emails and other writing in a small way as I start to employ these skills. It’s been exciting and will let you know how this goes as it evolves.

body of work

Book notes on this week’s theme of onlyness and unique life blend:

Pamela Slim’s book, Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together, has been a go-to book for me as I’ve negotiated this time of transition. I’ve read it as an ebook and audiobook soaking it all in, then bought the hard copy book, because I need it right by me each day.  This book focuses on how you can tease out the threads that tie your story together – the values, the skills, the themes, the ingredients of you. It also identifies how you can use this skill and knowledge to find new ways to do your work in the world.

Nilofer Merchant also explores ideas around onlyness, your unique blend and how to use this to impact the world in her new book, The Power of Onlyness: Make Your Wild Ideas Mighty Enough to Dent the World. This book will be released later this month and looks a fascinating read on finding our purpose and power and acting on it for change and impact.

11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra is an earlier book by Nilofer Merchant premised on the fact that “value creation in the 21st century starts with each of us”. I haven’t read this as yet but have downloaded as an ebook. It has 4.6/5 stars on Amazon with fabulous reviews so look forward to exploring this one.

The other book I would recommend on this theme is Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work This book is about how we find our power by turning professional and doing the work. He talks about shadow careers which are a metaphor for the real thing:

Sometimes, when we’re terrified of embracing our true calling, we’ll pursue a shadow calling instead. That shadow career is a metaphor for a real career. Its shape is similar, its contours feel tantalisingly the same. But a shallow career entails no real risk. If we fail at a shadow career, the consequences are meaningless to us. (P13)

Blog/Twitter/Instagram posts and interactions:

Part of our unique blend of skills is how we connect with others. A Study of the Champagne Industry shows that women have stronger networks and profit from them.

I want to share with you this post from a member of the Quiet Writing community, Kerstin Pilz, on Tiny Buddha, How a 10 day silent retreat helped heal my grieving heart because it is such a beautiful wholehearted story.

In Guided Meditation and Tips for Spiritual Grounding, Nicole Cody reminds us about the power of being grounded as we go through challenging circumstances and provides practical tips for keeping well grounded.

I also enjoyed this piece on Forest Bathing: A Retreat to Nature can Boost Immunity and Mood by Allison Aubrey via Dave Stachowiak on Twitter.

Clearly, I am looking for ways to ground myself and connect with nature at this time! I’m going back to swimming tomorrow after an interrupted time with illness and minor surgery, so cannot wait for that. Swimming is very grounding for me.

On Quiet Writing and Tarot Narratives

On Quiet Writing, I have been exploring this theme in various ways of how we find the threads that bring our story together for more wholehearted living. I see a critical part of finding our whole heart as identifying the central pieces that connect our narrative. Sometimes these have become lost along the way in our life. Or they may have manifested as a shadow career, not quite hitting the mark of where we want to go. Or maybe we just haven’t pulled the pieces together in a way that we can see new options.

Here are some relevant posts on Quiet Writing on this theme:

The unique voice of what we love

How knowing your authentic heart can make you shine

Our heart always know the way – a wholehearted story

Creative and Connected #4 – the wholehearted edition

My Tarot Narratives on Instagram have continued to be a rich source of inspiration and insight for my creative journey. Thanks for all the creative interactions. On honouring our unique life blend into action, in a recent post, Sharon Blackie in ‘If Women Rose Rooted’ reminds us:

”But sooner or later, no matter how cleverly we try to hide ourselves, to turn away from the truth, we are called to change. To wake up, and to see, and so to take responsibility. To reclaim our power, and to participate in the remaking of the world.” p83

Quotes on this theme

Just to finish, here a few fabulous quotes on this theme:

“Create your own style… let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.”
Anna Wintour

“Each of us is a unique strand in the intricate web of life and here to make a contribution.”
Deepak Chopra

“Behind every mask there is a face, and behind that a story.”
Marty Rubin

“To be oneself, simply oneself, is so amazing and utterly unique an experience that it’s hard to convince oneself so singular a thing happens to everybody.”
Simone de Beauvoir, Prime of Life

“Be uniquely you. Stand out. Shine. Be colorful. The world needs your prismatic soul!”
Amy Leigh Mercree

And here’s the beautiful orchids continuing to come out in my garden. Almost every flower is out now and it’s such a stunning display.

Have a fabulous creative weekend!


unique blend

Creative and Connected is a regular post each Friday and the previous posts are below. I hope you enjoy it. I would love any feedback via social media or comments and let me know what you are enjoying too.

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Keep in touch

Subscribe via email (see the link at the top) to make sure you receive updates from Quiet Writing and its passions in 2017. This includes MBTI developments, coaching, creativity and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world. My free e-book on the books that have shaped my story is coming soon for subscribers only – so sign up to be the first to receive it!

Quiet Writing is on Facebook – Please visit here and ‘Like’ to keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community. There are regular posts on intuition, influence, creativity, productivity, writing, voice, introversion and personality including Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

Creative and Connected #7 – how to craft a successful life on your own terms

Creative and Connected #6 – how to be a creative entrepreneur

How to make the best of introvert strengths in an extraverted world

Creative and Connected #5 – being accountable to ourselves and others

inspiration & influence introversion personality and story wholehearted stories work life

How to make the best of introvert strengths in an extraverted world

July 22, 2017



I am an introvert, an INTJ in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator world and basically off the dial on introversion. Yet I have balanced this with a job that involves a huge amount of people interaction, talking in front of groups, leading and participating in many meetings with complex interactions. As a result, it’s not easy to make time to charge my batteries through time alone, even though it’s something I desperately need.

Learning to successfully negotiate this balance is an ongoing journey and finding the time for recharge is a challenge. I’m interested in working my introvert side, understanding its strengths and weaknesses, capitalising on it, identifying what I can bring to a situation. I want to make the best of my introvert abilities and work them rather than have them working, and sometimes exhausting, me.

Here are some key inspirations and influences on understanding your introvert strengths in the work sphere for greater impact and positive outcomes.

Leveraging the advantages of being an introvert at work – Penelope Trunk

This article from Penelope Trunk discusses how the world of work rewards and is basically set up around the needs of extraverts. Her article provides a balance to this by offering some tips for leveraging the advantages of introverts. These tips include:

  • working from the world of ideas
  • giving full attentiveness for a short, concentrated time
  • improving your self-knowledge of your type
  • teaching other people how best to interact with you as an introvert, and
  • learning about the job roles that would best suit you.

There are also some excellent references for further reading embedded in this insightful article.

Caring for your introvert – Jonathan Rauch

This classic 2003 article from The Atlantic is about understanding the orientations and needs of introverts. It looks at some common myths or assumptions about introverts and provides a balanced point of view. The article takes the perspective that introverts are misunderstood and dogged by stereotypes such as being shy. Rauch corrects this one by saying that “introverts are people who find other people tiring.”

Rauch has some good pointers for balancing time with people and finding time to charge again. His answers to a scan of issues about introverts (are they misunderstood? are they oppressed? what are the implications of extraverts dominating public life?) provide useful perspectives for introverts seeking to find points of strength and balance. I especially love the distinction between introverts who typically ‘think before talking’ vs extraverts who typically ‘think by talking’.

Top ten myths about introverts – Carl King

This article lists Carl’s top ten myths about introverts, in a similar vein and drawing on the book ‘The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World’ by Marti Olsen-Laney.  It captures these myths in a pithy way I could instantly recognise. The article concludes:

‘It can be terribly destructive for an Introvert to deny themselves in order to get along in an Extrovert-Dominant World.’

Suggestions for managing this include: understanding the myths, linking in with other introverts for support and the need for extroverts to respect the ways of introverts.

Extroverts, introverts, aspies and codies – Venkatesh (Venkat) Rao

This article is a fascinating summary of introvert and extravert issues but takes a step further into the realm of microeconomicss, transactions and social psychology. The article explores energy in the exchange from the introvert and extravert point of view. It also reviews:

  • how introverts and extraverts manage isolation vs physical contact
  • 1:1 encounters and their depth
  • weak-link social fields such as coffee shops
  • strong-link social fields such as family gatherings
  • relationships over time and relationships with strangers.

Venkat also looks at how the tension between extraverts and introverts plays out in the slang terms they use or might use for each other. For example, ‘aspies’ (a term used by extraverts for introverts and linked to Asberger’s Syndrome) and ‘codie’s ( a possible term as none exists and linked to co-dependency). Venkat concludes by saying that introversion is becoming far more visible, resulting in shifts in the landscape of social psychology.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain

The publication of  Quiet in 2012 was a significant milestone in the landscape of literature about introvert strengths and how to work them. This book changed my life as I read page after page of narrative that explained so clearly the way I operated in the world. Backed by extensive evidence, cutting edge research, neuroscience and stories of real people, ‘Quiet’ helped me make sense of so much. As a result, I better understood myself and especially my unique powers of negotiation and leadership. The practical strategies exemplified assisted me to work my specific strengths and also manage my energy far more effectively.

These strengths include:

  • thorough and detailed preparation
  • asking the right questions at the right time
  • active listening
  • ability to focus intensely and be in flow
  • working more slowly, carefully and deliberately
  • the ability to take strong positions and come across calmly and with reason


Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler

Jennifer Kahnweiler’s Quiet Influence was another game changer for me in understanding how you can have influence in quiet ways. It provides a response to the problem often experienced by introverts: “In every performance review, I’m told I need to speak up more.” I’ve experienced this and I knew it wasn’t the problem or the solution! This book helped me realise that I had strengths – quieter strengths – that I needed to recognise as such and deploy more effectively.

These influence strategies for making a quiet difference include:

  • taking quiet time
  • preparation
  • engaged listening
  • focused conversations
  • writing
  • thoughtful use of social media

Learning how to use these strategies more effectively made an enormous difference to my impact and influence. I felt better about myself as I was more in flow with my natural energies rather than trying to be more extraverted. Quiet influence is a far more empowering and instinctive place from which to work.

Unpack your introvert strengths

I was fascinated to read in Penelope Trunk’s article above that my type, INTJ, has the longest Wikipedia page:

‘Because the combination of being an introvert and being ideas-driven makes one very interested in learning about oneself. INTJ’s are an extreme case, but all introverts have this combination to some extent, and the self-knowledge will help you put yourself in situations where you’ll have the most positive impact.’

It’s true, I am an extreme case and this summary is a piece of evidence testifying to that, an addition to the INTJ genre. True to type,  I can’t tell you how energising I found the experience of researching and writing it.

But for everyone, self-knowledge helps you make the most of your natural strengths. I hope this article is useful in identifying and unpacking your strengths and working your introvert. Or that it helps in the all important perspective of better understanding the ways of those around you.

How do you work your introvert? I’d love to hear!

Note: This post was originally published on my blog Transcending in 2011 as ‘Working your Introvert’. It’s updated in July 2017 to reflect key additional influences since that time.

Feature image via and used with permission and thanks.


Keep in touch

Subscribe via email (see the link at the top and below) to make sure you receive updates from Quiet Writing and its passions in 2017. This includes MBTI developments, coaching, creativity and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world. My free e-book on the books that have shaped my story is coming soon for subscribers only – so sign up to be the first to receive it!

Quiet Writing is on Facebook – Please visit here and ‘Like’ to keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community. There are regular posts on intuition, influence, creativity, productivity, writing, voice, introversion and personality including Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

Shining a quiet light – working the gifts of introversion

Being a vessel – or working with Introverted Intuition

How knowing your authentic heart can make you shine

creativity inspiration & influence planning & productivity

Creative and connected #6 – how to be a creative entrepreneur

July 21, 2017

 An entrepreneur creates value from ideas.

Joanna Penn, The Creative Penn

creative portfolio

Inspiring resources to keep you creative and connected – this week with a focus on being a creative entrepreneur and portfolio careers.

Here’s a round-up of what I’ve enjoyed and shared this week on various social platforms with a focus on how we can make a living from our creative skills.

I’ve been listening to podcasts and reading about being a creative entrepreneur and making a living from creativity for years now. It’s been part of “the long runway” – as Elizabeth Gilbert calls it in one of her Magic Lessons podcast – or preparation for this transition I’m now more actively embracing.

In this post, I share recent podcasts, books and posts on this theme as well as resources and contacts I have found valuable over time. A key focus is how we can work as multi-passionate people on portfolio careers with a number of income streams. These streams can include activities such as writing, coaching, speaking, self-publishing, workshops and online courses.

Podcasts on creativity and money

Real Artists Don’t Starve. Creativity and Money with Jeff Goins – on The Creative Penn

I loved this recent chat with Jeff Goins on my favourite podcast, The Creative Penn. It focuses on Jeff’s new book, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the new Creative Age. Jeff summarises key themes around creative success: showing up, discipline and taking a portfolio or multiple streams approach.

Key takeaways:

  • Jeff’s writing practices – his goal is “to write 500 new words every day”. He has a writing routine called the three bucket system. Each day, “I start something new, I finish something old, and I publish something. And so the three buckets are ideas, drafts, and edits. My work is every day, to move something from one bucket to the next.”  I’m so inspired by this idea of structuring work into a pipeline of action!
  • portfolio ways of working as a successful model for creatives and the benefits of having multiple streams of income. These streams include writing, workshops, online courses, speaking, coaching, as well as other revenue sources like property.
  • timeless strategies for creative success – the focus of his new book – about 12 things thriving artists do to achieve success.

How to be a Badass at Making Money – Jen Sincero on Your Kick-Ass Live Podcast with Andrea Owen

This podcast chat is about limiting beliefs around making money. It’s based on Jen Sincero’s latest book, You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth. This is a fun, energetic conversation that explores mindset issues that can stop us taking action.

Books and reading notes

I’ve continued reading David Whyte’s Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity. It’s becoming heavily underlined as each page speaks to me around work and identity. We’ll be exploring this book in more detail here soon on Quiet Writing.

I’m nearly finished Joanna Penn’s Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur which I’ve been enjoying as an audiobook. This is recommended reading/listening for anyone keen to learn more about operating as an author and business person.

Joanna is a creative entrepreneur who has built up income over time from multiple sources. She generously shares her tips and experiences via her books, blog and podcasts. Her recommended books and resources on creative entrepreneurship include:

  • How to Make a Living with your Writing – where Joanna shares practical tips based on her ability to earn a six-figure income through blogging, writing books and marketing ethically. I listened to this as an audiobook and it made fantastic learning.
  • Making a Living with your Writing – a page full of resources based on Joanna’s experience including practical tips and lessons learned on her entrepreneurial journey.

In terms of creativity and money, my thinking over time has been stimulated by Chris Guillebeau. Chris’s work is full of practical, grounded advice. His books on creative entrepreneurship include:

creative entrepreneur

Blog/Twitter/Instagram posts and interactions:

In 7 Reasons Creative People Don’t Talk about Money, poet and coach for creatives, Mark McGuinness talks about the love/hate relationship creatives often have with money. The post includes resources about money and creativity, especially around banishing some of the stereotypes.

Turn Your Creativity into a Career provides a guide for creative professionals interested in turning their creativity into a career. The perspective is around mapping your future as an independent creative entrepreneur and shaping your body of work.

How to Launch a Successful Portfolio Career, an article by Michael Greenspan in the Harvard Business Review, is targeted at corporate and executive level leaders and argues for a pragmatic approach to professional transitions. He advises: “The more specific and unique your skill set and experience, the more valuable your portfolio will be.”

In The idea of  “one true calling” is a romanticized lie, Emilie Wapnick explores the myth of the true calling and whether you might be a ‘multipotentialite’ or “someone with many interests and creative pursuits“. Emilie talks about the spectrum of being a multipotentialite and provides some models for managing multiple portfolios and career strands. She also has a book, How to be Everything, which explores this issue in more detail.

My post on Quiet Writing, How knowing your authentic heart can make you shine,  looks at the power of finding the thread that connects through your passions and career journey; in my case, writing. It also provides suggested strategies for finding your golden thread or authentic heart to guide you.

My Tarot Narratives on Instagram have been a rich source of inspiration and insight for my creative journey and I hope they are connecting with you too. This has been a consistent daily intuitive practice since 1 June now and I haven’t missed a day! Thanks for all the creative interactions.

And here’s the beautiful orchids coming out in my garden. Have a fabulous creative weekend!

Creative and Connected is a regular post each Friday – previous posts below. I hope you enjoy it. I would love any feedback via social media or comments and let me know what you are enjoying too.

Feature image via

Keep in touch

Subscribe via email (see the link at the top and below) to make sure you receive updates from Quiet Writing and its passions in 2017. This includes MBTI developments, coaching, creativity and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world. My free e-book on the books that have shaped my story is coming soon for subscribers only – so sign up to be the first to receive it!

Quiet Writing is on Facebook – Please visit here and ‘Like’ to keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community. There are regular posts on intuition, influence, creativity, productivity, writing, voice, introversion and personality including Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

How knowing your authentic heart can make you shine

6 Inspiring Podcasts for Creatives and Book Lovers

Creative and Connected #5 – being accountable to ourselves and others

Creative and Connected #4 – the wholehearted edition