It’s an absolute delight today to welcome Shelley Wilson as my guest on Being Anne, as part of the blog tour for How I Motivated Myself to Succeed, out now in paperback and eBook, and available via Amazon in the UK and US. Self-help may not be a genre I often feature, but I have had the immense pleasure of spending time in Shelley’s company on a couple of occasions, and her personal warmth and wonderful smile have always brightened my day. Welcome, Shelley…
I’d like to extend a huge thank you to my host, Anne, for providing a comfy spot to rest my weary typing fingers during my blog tour.
Does writing non-fiction energise or exhaust you?
Depending on the specific topic, writing for the personal development and self-help genre can be both energising and exhausting. Writing How I Motivated Myself to Succeed (HIMMTS) ended up being an upbeat project, however, when I began writing it a few years ago it drained all my energy levels to the extent that I had to abandon that first draft.
Why did you struggle to write it?
Back in 2015, I fell ill following a viral infection and struggled to come to terms with a host of symptoms. Unfortunately, the illness affected my job, and I had to close my beloved holistic health business. The combination of symptoms, grief over my business, and coping day-to-day resulted in a debilitating phase of depression and anxiety. There was no way I could write anything motivational when all I wanted to do was crawl back under the duvet.
As the book is now published I assume you overcame this illness.
I did. Although it was much tougher than I expected. I’ve adapted to my symptoms and have learned when to rest and when I can give 100%. It’s been a huge learning curve for me as a single mum, writer, and friend. I can’t tell you the exact date I got my mojo back; I just woke up one day with a burning desire to write my book.
Did this experience affect your writing?
Interestingly the experience has had an impact on my writer’s voice. As well as publishing non-fiction titles in the self-help genre, I also write teenage fantasy fiction, and I found that my voice became much darker in that area. At the time, I was finishing the final book in my young adult trilogy, and my editor told me it was her favourite book because it was so dark and mysterious. I’ve since been told that HIMMTS is also more thought provoking than light-hearted which my first non-fiction title was.
As you touch upon subjects such as domestic abuse, depression, and mental health, have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym?
I pride myself on being honest with my writing, and that includes my blog posts as well as my books. I refuse to shy away from topics that need to be acknowledged. I’m also proud to say that I survived a physically and emotionally abusive marriage and I hope by being honest it will help someone else to find the strength they need. Using my real name and identity will hopefully help my readers connect with me on a personal level. Writing under a pseudonym, for me, creates a distance between author and reader.
Do you view writing as a spiritual practice?
I believe that writing, as well as reading, can be a hugely spiritual experience. I’ve used my writing as a way to heal myself on more than one occasion and find a great comfort in the act of pouring words onto an empty page. Finding my way back to myself following my illness was done through my writing. I used my fantasy fiction as a way to detach myself from reality for a while and envelope myself in faerie realms and demon worlds until I felt ready to return to normality.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
The business I had to close due to my illness was a women’s only holistic health spa where I provided alternative therapies such as reflexology, Indian head massage, Reiki healing, Emotional Freedom Technique, and crystal healing, as well as a host of other treatments and courses. I loved this work as it was so calming and inspirational. I guess my non-fiction books are an alternative form of the same job.
If I could answer this question from a pure fantasy point of view, I would have to say vampire slayer, forensic scientist, or archaeologist!
Can you give us an excerpt of How I Motivated Myself to Succeed?
Of course, here is part of the introduction.
When I wrote How I Changed My Life in a Year, I used the many personal development tools that have helped shape my new life. The book you hold in your hand right now is my way of sharing the what, why, and how of making life changes, and sticking with them for the long term. I finally understand why my readers needed answers. How I Changed My Life in a Year was like making a cake without the recipe. Here was the final twelve-layered chocolate sponge, covered in gooey icing and sprinkles, but with no instructions on what was needed, or how to go about making it. Luckily, it tasted great and went down a storm at tea parties, but people wanted more – as is normally the case with chocolate cake!
I’m not a life coach, a specialist guru, or a big name in the world of self-help. I’m a single mum with grey hair and back fat, but I have an insatiable passion for life, and I want to share what I’ve learned with you, in the hope that my journey can tempt, motivate, inspire, and assist you on your voyage of discovery. Empowering women to be the best they can be has become my mission in life.
The decisions we make in life, and the incredible treks we take, don’t just happen. We are in control of our destinies, and this means that it’s down to us to make them happen. I hope this book fills in the gaps for you. I want it to inspire you to try something new, change a habit, set a few goals, release your limiting beliefs, or stay motivated to achieve the dreams you’ve already set yourself. You’ll notice the title reads How I Motivated Myself to Succeed; this is intentional. I wanted to share my personal thoughts, experiments, successes, and failures, so writing this book in the form of a self-help memoir felt right.
There are a ton of fantastic self-help books on the market today; some even include workbooks that can help you with a specific area of your life, and some are linked to online or audio courses. I’m not reinventing the wheel here; my aim is to give you, the reader, a comfortable read that feels familiar and safe. Self-help, how-to, supportive, counselling-driven books are incredibly personal to the individual reader. I’ve bought loads of motivational books because of media hype or because a favourite author has written it, only to find it to be unhelpful. I slot it on my bookshelf and wait – in time, my life will change direction, or certain circumstances will present themselves, and that book will be just the thing I need to read at that time. I fully support the saying, ‘when the student is ready, the teacher appears.’
Thank you Shelley – and wishing you every success with this one. If you would like to read more then take a look at Shelley’s new release, How I Motivated Myself to Succeed, out now in paperback and eBook, and packed full of information on self-care, freeing yourself from fear, organising your life, and much more.
About the author
Shelley is a multi-genre author of non-fiction self-help and young adult fantasy fiction. Her latest release, How I Motivated Myself to Succeed is being dubbed as the sequel-that’s-not-a-sequel to her bestselling book, How I Changed My Life in a Year. She writes a personal development blog as well as an author blog where she shares book reviews, author interviews, and random musings about writing. Shelley was thrilled to win the Most Inspirational Blogger Award at the Bloggers Bash in 2016, and to scoop second place in the same category in 2017. She is a single mum to three teenagers and a black cat, loves pizza, vampires, and The Walking Dead, and has a slight obsession with list writing.