because I need self-imposed deadlines

My toolbox

I’m taking a whole new approach to my life this year by making some changes I’ve been considering for a while. Some of these changes include becoming self-employed, taking creative writing classes, undertaking some training that will help me take my career in a new direction and – the big one – writing a novel.

I’ve been spending quite a lot of time reading books or websites and listening to podcasts that are proving to be very useful and interesting in my new approach; I think of them as adding to my ‘life toolbox’ of things that I am finding helpful, so I thought I might share them here.


I listen to podcasts or audio books most evenings when I go to bed, or when I go for a nice long walk in the woods.  One of the podcasts I’ve been enjoying recently is The Lively Show by Jess Lively.  The podcast is described as being designed to ‘uplift, inspire and add a little extra intention to your everyday’. Episodes focus on a range of topics such as relationships, career, personal habits, travel and life choices. Jess sometimes interviews guests but over the last year, she has focused more on talking about her own personal ‘journey’ as she travels around the globe and follows life according to ‘flow’, which basically means listening to your instincts and what the universe is telling you. Some of it can be a bit ‘woo woo’ (that’s the term she herself uses to describe it) but I really enjoy Jess’s honesty, upbeat delivery and pragmatic approach.


Although I love the film ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ it’s mainly because I am a Julia Roberts fan. I tried reading the book, by Elizabeth Gilbert, but I just couldn’t get on with it. However, I had seen lots of recommendations for her most recent book, ‘Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear’ and picked up a copy on a whim. I have really been enjoying it and have also downloaded the audio version on Audible to listen to at night or when I’m on a walk.

I trying to develop my own writing practice at the moment. I’ve been going to creative writing classes, writing short stories and am trying to develop my ideas for a novel. This book is helping me to enjoy my creativity and not be too hard on myself when I find the muse isn’t showing up.

I also enjoy dipping into ‘The Pier Falls’ by Mark Haddon. I bought this book after we looked at a couple of excerpts in my writing class; I was blown away by the writing. This is a collection of short stories and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The title story had my attention from the first sentence and kept a taut hold on it until the end. The longest of the stories is 60 pages long and is called ‘Wodwo’. It is based on the 14th century poem  ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ but is written in a modern setting. I don’t want to give too much away, but it is an astounding piece of work and it stayed with me for days after I read it. The whole book of stories has really made me think about what makes a good story and what constitutes the kind of writing I find challenging and inspiring.

Speaking of writing I admire, I have also finished ‘The Nest’ by Cynthia d’Aprix Sweeney and ‘He Said/She Said’ by Erin Kelly and I really enjoyed both books. ‘The Nest’ is my favourite kind of dysfunctional family story and is set in New York (my favourite place). It follows the Plumb family and the behaviours that are exhibited by them all around an inheritance (the ‘nest’ of the title). The characterisation is excellent and I enjoyed living in the Plumbs’ world for a while.

‘He Said/She Said’ is a psychological thriller by one of my favourite writers, Erin Kelly. As the title suggests, the story has at least two different points of view and it unfolds around a central couple who are living in the present day but is interwoven with flashbacks from the solar eclipse in 1999. It is very ‘twisty/turny’ and I really enjoyed being drawn in to the story and changing my mind about which characters I believed or even liked.

So, that’s it for now but I have just taken delivery of loads more books to plough through, so I’m sure I’ll have more recommendations to share soon.









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