Tuesday 1 October 2019


I am always delighted to see a particular title created by Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharrat around, whether the book is in bookshop , or in a library book-box, or displayed on a library shelf, or being pored over on a school carpet – but more on that later .. . .

Meanwhile, other things.

The Books I Read This Year (2013) | Lucille ZimmermanRecently, in the bookshop at Bristol’s Arnolfini Gallery – aren’t gallery bookshops wonderful? - I came across a neat little book, one in a pocket-sized series.

It was HOW TO STAY SANE by the psychotherapist Philippa Perry and seemed a useful little book to turn to when the smaller, personal anxieties haunt the hour. 

Among many other activities, Perry suggests using self-observation as a technique:
What am I feeling now?
What am I thinking now? What am I doing at this moment?
How am I breathing in this moment? (This I found so interesting a practice!)
What do I want for myself in this new moment?

All in all, she seemed to be saying YOU CAN MAKE A CHOICE about how you react.

I’ve also been looking into DREAM AUTHOR, an online course for writers set up by Sophie Hannah who is an established poet, novelist, crimewriter and writing tutor.

What I find interesting is that Sophie’s course - which is now live - does not teach about the mechanics of writing or story structure or poetic form or similar topics.

Dream Author is – my own words here – very much about helping the author to manage and maintain their writing life with confidence and resilience. And much more besides. 

It is an immersive coaching course that looks at how effectively your pursue being the kind of writer you dream of being.

Sophie writes about a Dream Author being an author with the right set of dreams and the ability to take action to help realise them and about how you “must master the skills you will need to thrive in a world that won’t accommodate your dreams unless you give it no choice but to do so.”

A particular emphasis within the Dream Author course seems to me  to be that, while painful things happen in one’s writing life, YOU DO HAVE A CHOICE about how you react to situations, to how you think about things and whether you let these incident have power over you. Exactly what kind of success do you dream about for yourself? 

And also . .  

As I type these words, I am reminded of Jenny Alexander who runs creative writing workshops in Cornwall and elsewhere. Throughout all her books on being a writer, Jenny suggests thinking about what makes you , as a writer, happy. When the social media writing bubble seems way too full of certain kinds of success stories and author lifestyles, this can be a very wise suggestion indeed.

When do authors need to seek permission, and how do you go ...

Finally, that Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharrat book title? What else could it be but



You Choose!: Amazon.co.uk: Pippa Goodhart, Nick Sharratt ...

I’m trying to make that my message to myself for October.

Penny Dolan


Jenny Alexander said...

Thank you, Penny! I love that my books are in such great company here :)

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Lynne Benton said...

Great post, Penny - and important to point out that it is our choice as to how we react to things. I am a great fan of Sophie Hannah's Dream Author programme, and her message fits very well into this post. Haven't yet found Philippa Perry's book, but now I will look for it!

Chris Vick said...

wise words here, a lot to think about and reflect upon

Pippa Goodhart said...

Just home from holiday, and looking at what I've missed in the last week. And here's THIS! Lovely of you to use You Choose, Penny, and, yes, a very good reminder from you that we have so many small choices every day about how to react to things, setting the tone for our own lives. Thank you!

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Thank you Penny. I too have just come back from holiday and missed much! And Sophie Hannah is of course the daughter of our very famous History Girl Adele Geras! Will look into this course. It sounds fascinating!