I met my next guest at an online book event and was fortunate to be in the same break-out room with her. We got chatting about books and I invited her along to tell us about her latest title, Connected.
Gemma is a Resilience and Recovery Coach, as well as being a Wellbeing Writer and Speaker. She has a varied background from journalism to administrative support for the Police to doing research for a multi-activity course in aid of wounded, injured and sick service personnel.
She lives with her partner Scott in Wigan with their very spoilt 11-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, Taz. Gemma enjoys crocheting, the theatre, natural history museums, and studying, and is currently (very slowly) making her way through a Doctorate in Coaching and Mentoring at Oxford Brookes University.
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I had a poem published in a local primary school anthology when I was maybe seven or eight and haven’t stopped since. I did my undergraduate degree in Creative Writing and English Literature and ended up taking my writing skills to New Zealand where I worked as a journalist for a national newspaper. On my return I worked in sectors outside of writing but found that my love of story and being able to ask the right questions lead me into working with people, specifically as a coach. Now I am able to combine my wellbeing writing with my coaching.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
Connected is my first book although in 2020 I was published as a contributor to a book called Unzenable: A Guide to Stress Less and Be More where I talk about stress resilience. Because Connected is also contributor based, I wonder if I have assembled a book rather than written one but it’s lovely to have been the vehicle that brought together so many fantastic individuals, styles, skills, and experiences into some accessible.
What genre is it, and what is it about?
I like to explain Connected as a cross between a self-help book and a wellbeing directory. The aim is to provide an entry level doorway into the world of wellbeing and challenge some of the traditional perspectives of wellbeing as just diet and exercise when actually everything we do, from our jobs to our environments to our social circles, impact our overall health. The book covers twelve areas of wellbeing and has 45 contributors sharing information, advice, and guidance on the specialist area whilst also inviting readers to connect with them personally for additional help if required.
What or who inspired you to write this book?
I started my coaching business in early 2020 and began meeting so many different people all passionate about what they do. I wanted to find a way to help them get their message out there and equally to help people in need to find the right support. When the first lockdown came, I knew it was more important than ever that we started having conversations about holistic wellbeing and ensuring that nobody struggled alone. It took eighteen months in total to bring Connected together, but I believe this is the right thing at the right time now we understand more about wellness in general.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Firstly, do what works for you. I know there is so much conflicting advice out there about how much or how often you should write. Once I’d spent a year planning, I wrote Connected in a month because that is what worked for me. Secondly, speak to people who have been through the process. There is so much to learn, especially for a first-time author so don’t be afraid to ask questions and get other points of view. Finally, have some accountability. I had a really great group of people who were relying on me to get this book finished, who checked in on me, who kept me up to date, and who supported me in all sorts of ways; I could not have done it without them.
What do you enjoy most about writing and why?
I love how therapeutic writing is. For me, as an introvert, as someone who is generally quite shy, I love how writing helps me to make sense of things in a way that talking wouldn’t. It allows me to organise my thoughts, to draft and redraft, to shape and hone what I am trying to say until it fully represents what I mean. For me, spoken words often feel clumsy but with writing I can take my time, be myself, and communicate much more eloquently.
List three interesting facts about yourself
- I lived in New Zealand for three and a half years in my early twenties.
- I have never broken a bone.
- I donate £2 from the sale of every copy of Connected to Lancashire Mind.
What is your least favourite part of the publishing/writing process?
Definitely the proof-reading process. It is amazing how many times you can read the same thing, have someone else read it, and run it through spell check and still find those sneaky little extra commas or missing quotation marks, or help people to heel rather than heal which is something different entirely. Obviously, it is these little things that help the writing to be polished and professional, but I did reach a point of being unable to read my own words anymore.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
If you enjoy Connected, I would love to be invited to guest speak or give a presentation about the book to your colleagues or book clubs or other types of groups. I do a lot of travelling around the country with my role and I find that people really engage with hearing first-hand the story behind the story. Having had my own experiences with poor mental health and wellbeing, it’s lovely to be able to share how the tips and tricks in the book have been effective in my own life and how people can maximise them for their own lives too.
What is your next project?
I have several projects on the go at the moment. I am working on a book around personal resilience which is my specialist area for coaching and training; I am working on an Armed Forces community specific version of Connected to help people within that community access the right support; and finally, I am working with a couple of individuals and businesses with their own books which is a new element to what I do and is very exciting.
Connect with Gemma here:
Have you ever felt disconnected? Have you heard the word wellbeing but are not quite sure what it means? Are you struggling with a particular area of your life and do not know how to move forward?
In this beginner’s guide to wellness Gemma Margerison will show you the 12 areas you can engage with to feel connected and experience well-rounded health, so that you can start to increase your overall levels of wellbeing.
Discover the Four Spheres of Connection: self, others, world, and purpose, and explore each of them in more depth. Also includes information, advice, and guidance from over 40 UK-based practitioners.
Be more connected and join author, speaker, coach, and researcher Gemma Margerison on a journey to a holistically healthy life.
£2 from the sale of every book will be donated to support the work of Lancashire Mind.