WRITING Mindcraft – why your mind matters


Catherine Whitmore tells us why, as writers, managing our mind is just as important
as learning our craft.

Last year I joined Dream Author. It is a programme in which best-selling crime writer, Sophie Hannah, combines writing know-how and support with life coaching. At the time, I was lost as a writer. My novel had been rejected by all the publishers that my agent had submitted to. I didn’t know what to write next. A year of lockdown, home-schooling and rejection had taken its toll. Writing was something that I wanted to want to do, but I couldn’t quite do it. I chastised myself for being lazy and lacking focus. I knew that I had loved it, but wondered if I ever would again.


Sitting down to write had started as a treat, an escape from the monotony of toddler supervision, but 10 years on and I wasn’t playing with my characters, relishing perfect metaphors and escaping into worlds of possibility. As I sat down to write I only asked, ‘Why bother? To be rejected again? To go through the pain of submission again?’ ‘I am sacrificing time with my family, for what?’


One of the first things that Sophie asks you to do as a Dream Author, is to set a Dream Goal. I did this years ago with a coach. Back then, I made the image of Walt Disney holding hands with Mickey Mouse my screensaver. It was a goal to have one of my characters be so real, perhaps even so part of popular culture, that I could hold their hand. But I had forgotten all about that. I had become consumed with my ideas of success and failure, convinced that writing was hard and that publishing was tortuous.


Reconnecting with my dream, meant that for the last year I have sat at my desk with that image in my mind. Now when I write, I do so with the excitement of knowing that I am taking my character by the hand and leading them on our dream journey.


Not every time. Obviously! But, if the familiar resistance creeps in, I know what I have to do. Redecide why I want to write.


F I have long been interested in life coaching, binging Mel Robbins, Sophie Hannah and Brooke Castillo. In lockdown, I arranged and hosted the well-being sessions for SCBWI because I saw that it wasn’t people’s craft that was suffering. The pandemic didn’t delete SCBWIs understanding of the three-act structure. Covid 19 attacked our taste buds, not our ability to characterise through dialogue. It did, however, alter or highlight the way many of us thought about our writing and illustration. Whether it was making it more or less of a priority, questioning our commitment to our projects or our focus. Our minds need the same care as our craft. In fact, our minds need the care so that our craft can flourish.


I recently decided to train with The Life Coach School. Just like with writing, anyone can call themselves a Life Coach, it is not a regulated profession. Why I feel like I need a certificate to become one is a subject for a whole other article! But, I am going to publish a series of articles​ with Words & Pictures on the lessons that I have learned through my journey with Life Coaching. I hope that they will be as useful to you as they have been to me.

*Header image: in-house collaboration between Ell Rose and Tita Berredo



Catherine Whitmore is a mum and rarely-evil-step-mother from Greater Manchester. When not writing and life coaching, she enjoys family time (on the whole), Liane Moriarty and a boxset binge.


Ell Rose is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures. Contact them at illustrators@britishscbwi.org

Tita Berredo is the Illustrator Coordinator of SCBWI British Isles and the Art Director of Words & Pictures. Contact her at: illuscoordinator@britishscbwi.org

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