Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author Natalie Read about her work, what inspires her, and the creative process behind her new book, Being Human.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
My name is Natalie Read and I’m a counsellor, spiritual coach and the author of Being Human- the path to self-acceptance, resilience and happiness. I believe strongly in the need to shift the focus from crisis to prevention of mental health in order to promote more happiness, positive well-being and resilience. I also wholeheartedly believe in working towards self-acceptance and self-love in order to obtain long-lasting and fundamental change whilst offering support and solutions to help manage symptoms along the way.
My background. I’ve worked as a counsellor for over 15 years and my experience includes working with adults and young adults in private practice and as a University student counsellor. I also offer spiritual coaching for those who wish to explore more of their spiritual side in whatever belief system they choose to anchor this.
I started my career in the corporate world working in sales, marketing and HR. Over a decade, I gained experience in organisational psychology, change management, leadership, coaching, executive coaching, training and facilitation. I had a very successful career but after facing prolonged health issues which led to a disability that I still manage to this day, I retrained as a counsellor. Accepting and coping with this disability started out as one of the most difficult experiences of my life but became the catalyst for a hugely positive and fulfilling transformation.
The counselling training enabled me to find a more conscious relationship with myself as well as a much healthier, happier and meaningful life. It’s also sparked a continuing quest for self and spiritual development through a breadth and depth of reading and additional trainings. I’ve transferred my passion and skills towards helping others find more happiness, self-acceptance and success.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
That’s an interesting question as I never set out or intended to write a book. Approximately 5 years ago, I became increasingly concerned about the level of demand for counselling. The media was and still is full of reports about a mental health crisis – increasing demand and complexity, earlier onset of younger children affected, higher levels of risk and stretched resources. I decided to act and considered many different ideas, none of which was writing a book! I meditated daily and felt compelled to write (imagining it was a workshop.) Before long, I realised I had enough material for a book. The surprise of this led to a pause for a while as I had no desire to become an author or put myself in the public eye. I worked through much resistance before I continued.
When did you take a step to start writing?
I finally surrendered to the process though, when I realised I couldn’t find anywhere the book I felt was needed and also, couldn’t stop writing. I also received so much encouragement from friends and family who supported the need for this book. Once this was decided, I tried to write as often as I could whilst balancing my counselling work and home life alongside it.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
It was around 4 years although I did have a break of 9 months whilst moving house twice in the process. The final year was the most dedicated and intensive period once I fully committed to the project.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Being Human?
My biggest challenge was myself. Firstly, overcoming the fact that I didn’t want to be an author and then questioning whether I could actually do it. I’d only written academic essays or training courses and workshops before attempting a book. It was a huge learning curve from start to finish having never done anything of the sort before. The actual writing process flowed easily as I couldn’t stop writing but I did get some support from my lovely friend Kendra on my writing style. She helped me turn my academic style into the way I would speak out loud to others.
What was your research process for Being Human?
I deliberately set out to write a book that was in my words rather than using mental health terminology. I based it on all of my experience as a counsellor, my corporate coaching and leadership background as well as my 25 year quest of self and spiritual development. It combines all of these approaches in a language intended to appeal to any belief system. So I spent a lot of time reflecting on my practice, my experience as well as revisiting all of the sources that have contributed to my evolving practice. I also researched mental health trends.
How did you plan the structure of Being Human?
I initially wrote down all of my thoughts as they arose and then started to group the themes into sections. I ended up with 3 different parts. Part 1 is about being more human and includes the most common themes that have offered reassurance to so many people in my 15 years’ experience as a counsellor. It’s full of messages that build understanding and a more positive outlook – learning to go with the flow of life, insights about happiness, learning to work with rather than against your emotions, the impact of stories and beliefs and how to have healthier relationships.
Part 2 includes information and practical solutions to help address and prevent difficulty in each of the most common mental health difficulties including depression and low mood, anxiety, anger, self-esteem and relationship difficulties. Part 3 includes approaches to build happiness and self-empowerment including chapters on building resilience, embracing peace, building self-love and attracting more of the life you wish to have.
Being human – the path to self-acceptance, resilience and happiness is written from the heart with a positive and compassionate message, encouraging self-awareness, responsibility and self-empowerment. It’s full of examples, explanations, exercises as well as free access to 12 accompanying meditations written to support the material in the book. It offers a journey of self-discovery to find self-acceptance and self-love through a blend of psychology with a mind, body, spirit approach in a language intended to appeal to any belief system.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Being Human need?
Once I had a completed draft, I sought the help of a copy editor who helped me to finalise the structure and referencing as well as giving me invaluable advice and reassurance. As the editor was an expert in this field, it gave me so much confidence that the book was well written enough as well as offering a valuable resource to my target audience. I then followed this up with a separate proofreader which again was well worth the investment.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Follow your heart. If you’re drawn to share something with others, listen to yourself and write from that place. Then evaluate and consider the best way to express this. If you try to do this the other way round, it reduces the impact of your message. Work through any self-doubt, reframe any self-criticism, challenge the assumptions behind any perceived judgements and trust yourself.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
There’s definitely more opportunities in that I continue to write down more ideas regularly. But it’s too soon to say anything further.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Yes I am so proud of myself. It was a huge learning curve and I found it particularly hard to remember all the different parts of the book at one time. To keep going despite inevitable obstacles is an achievement to be proud of. It has been so rewarding to receive feedback from readers sharing how helpful a resource it’s been. It makes it so worthwhile as I’m so passionate about what I do. My intention was to offer a resource for those suffering with mild-to-moderate difficulties whilst waiting for, alongside or instead of professional support. It also offers opportunities to prevent mental health symptoms and improve happiness and resilience for those who aren’t experiencing difficulty, but would like to work on themselves.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Being human – the path to self-acceptance, resilience and happiness is available on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBooks and most major retailers online. Paperback £9.99 and e-book £4.99
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorNatalieRead
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