Interview by Ceri Wheeldon
Claire Walton talks about how she combined her experience as a coach and her love of journals to write and publish her first book.
I’m a 52-year-old High Performance Coach living in North Yorkshire with partner, Jay. I have a daughter, Emily, who no longer lives with me as she is 29, she lives in Newcastle, and we are very close regardless.
When did you start to write?
I have kept a journal on and off for years, for my own use and I started writing the odd article about 6 years ago, just for social media posts. I only recently turned my hand to combining my love of journals and my love of coaching and mentoring into a writing project culminating in my first book.
What have been the challenges for you?
My biggest challenge wasn’t the writing it was the editing. I do not profess to be a ‘writer’, but I think I can tell a good story and I am high on empathy and relate easily to lots of people. I had to manage my perfectionism traits during the edit process, which I outsourced to a 3rd party. I also had to manage my occasional self-doubt (not something I often struggle with) just before I published. I had to accept that this was my first book, and it probably wouldn’t therefore be my best, but it would be good enough. If I didn’t do this my book would not be read by anyone but me and would still be a draft manuscript.
What did you do prior to this?
My first career was as an Executive Director leading large teams primarily in big UK brands. My second career is as a Coach and Mentor for other Executive Directors, people in leadership roles and Entrepreneurs.
When was your first book published?
What is the title of your latest book?
Super Neuro You – Achieve more success for less stress and make a difference for yourself and others.
What was the inspiration behind your latest book?
Common coaching clients challenges and some of my own life experience inspired the book. After several years of studying Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, and various psychological health therapies I saw the impact weaving this into my coaching had on my clients. I wanted to share some of this in a book and make it accessible to people who can’t have one to one or group coaching with me.
What can you share with us about the plot – without spoiling the ending!
Laura Masters is Chief Commercial Officer for a Health Food company, she is approaching 50 and feels unsuccessful in life despite her obvious success. Something happens at the beginning of the book which acts as a wake-up call for Laura and prompts her to revaluate her approach to life. She does this with the help of her new coach (Me). The story follows Laura’s two steps forward and one step back coaching experience and the ripple effect this in her life.
Who are the key characters – and how do you hope readers over 50 will relate to them?
Laura is the central character, and she is very relatable because she is vulnerable and flawed. She briefly introduces us to several other key people in her life, parents, siblings, her daughter and husbands, friends, and colleagues. She has a fairly working class to middle class life and experiences many common emotions and behaviours that most people, not just women, will be familiar with.
What do like the most about the character/s you have created?
I love the fact that she is raw, honest, and relatable. The book is written as her journal and in it she explores some everyday situations and her mental and emotional responses to them.
Me, the coach is very much given a ‘supporting’ role in the book. You get enough to imagine the person Laura has her coaching sessions with and to get a feel for what a coach might be like and how they might approach a coaching session, but her character is not a focus for the story. Having said this, I do write ‘A bit about me’ and my own story in the introductory chapter.
Are there any key issues you wanted to draw attention to?
Several. The core premise is that we are all human and therefore vulnerable and imperfect and yet at the same time we all have huge potential to be so much more and to create a ripple effect of positive impact arounds us. We can do this by accessing our superpowers, which are always there, but we sometimes get in the way of them. Through Laura’s journal we get a ‘birds’ eye’ view into her coaching and her application of the many insights that come from the coaching. We also get access to the many tools and exercises the coach asks Laura to undertake.
What do want readers to take away having the read the book?
I want readers to enjoy the story and feel inspired to make some changes for themselves.
What’s next for you – will there be a sequel with the same characters?
My next book will be ‘Super Neuro Teams’ – exploring team dynamics from the perspectives of different individual team members. Again, a Journal style approach, reading the reflection journals of the team as they undertake team coaching with a coach (me again). Laura will be one of these team members.
What 3 tips would you offer women looking to write their first book?
Just do it! Write something that excites you to write. Write with a reader in mind. I imagined a woman like me reading my book. Befriend your ‘inner critic’ during the writing and publishing process, she’s there to help you, she wants to protect you, she will do this effectively if you ‘befriend her’ (Lot’s about this in the book). Ask for and take all the support available to you. This does not have to be a solo project. You may be the only writer, but you will need others to support you along the way and in my experience people love being part of the ride.