Gabriella Goddard worked in international marketing and branding before setting up her own business, Goddard International Ltd., which develops and offers personal development products and where she works as an executive coach and speaker.
Her clients include senior executives in FTSE100 companies, TV presenters, authors, journalists and entrepreneurs.
Goddard is also the author of Gulp!: The 7 Day Crash Course to Master Fear and Break Through Any Challenge (Bantam, 2007) as well as three audiobooks, among them, 10 Ways to Fast Track Your Career (audible.com, 2007).
In this interview, Gabriella Goddard talks about her writing.
When did you start writing?
As a child I loved writing and I used to write poems and short stories for the school newsletter. At the tender age of seven, I even wrote the school play. But all of that disappeared as I got older and veered towards doing the sensible thing of studying maths and science so I’d “never be out of a job.”
That was until about 30 years later when I received a wake up call.
How did decide you wanted to be a published writer?
A few years ago I had the traumatic experience of going through a breast cancer scare. It was a massive wake up call and a crucial turning point in my life. Faced with the possibility of dying, something flipped inside me and that’s when I reconnected to my childhood dream of being a writer. After all, if not now…then when?
And that’s when I began to write again.
How would you describe your writing?
The books I’m currently writing are non-fiction personal development and “how to” guides which tie in with my role as an executive coach and motivational expert.
Plus, I’ve just started shaping my first novel which has been very exciting. It’s also been a big challenge from a creative perspective -- but I’m ready for it now. I’ve blocked out some time in August this year to really get stuck into it and I can’t wait!
Who is your target audience?
For my self-help and personal development books the target audience is women and men who are interested in personal growth and self–improvement. Often they’re going through a period of change in their life or facing issues in their career, relationships or life direction. And what they’re looking for is inspiration, insight, practical steps, action plans and most of all “hope.”
It made sense to write for this audience because as an executive coach and motivational expert, I’ve worked with thousands of people to help them make transformational changes in their life. Plus I’ve been through a fair few myself. So I have the theoretical and practical know-how to really help people who find themselves in a bit of a pickle. And by putting all this into a book like Gulp!, it means I can help so many more people.
Who would you say has influenced you most?
There are some amazing authors in the self-help genre. People like Paolo Coelho, Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson are three of my favorites. Reading their books really encouraged to be open, honest and authentic as a writer. I’m also a huge fan of Jodi Picoult and I love the way she really draws you into her stories.
What are your main concerns as a writer?
What concerns me most about being a writer is how difficult it can be to earn a living from it. You have to be really motivated to keep it up and develop a thick skin to cope with the rejection letters. It’s no wonder that so many people give up. But these days, with the advent of digital technology, there are many alternative routes to getting published, for example, self-publishing print on demand, audio books and eBooks for Amazon Kindle.
What I’ve done is to self-publish a number of short audio books to compliment Gulp! and because I own the rights, 100% of the net profit comes back to me. Plus I have a couple of eBooks coming out on Amazon Kindle later this year. I’ll still be pitching my next self-help book to the major publishers, but thankfully this is no longer the only route to the reader's bookshelf.
What are the biggest challenges that you face?
One of the biggest challenges I face is “distraction” (or possibly procrastination?). When I was writing Gulp! I’d spend hours doing research on Google. The problem was that by the end of the day I would have only written a few pages!
Another challenge I face is the frustration around the time it takes to get words typed out. In my ideal world I’d be able to telepathically transmit all my thoughts onto a Word document. But until that happens, I’ll just have to sit down and spend hours typing.
And finally, perhaps the greatest challenge I face is trying to sort out all the amazing ideas buzzing around in my head.
How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?
My personal experiences have been pivotal in shaping my writing. They say that when you write a book, you’ll either write about what you’ve been through or write about what you’re going to go through. Underpinning Gulp! is my personal journey of coping with a breast cancer scare and finding the confidence and courage to follow my dream to be a published author. In fact, the 7-day roadmap is based on the process I went through to cope with these challenges.
How many books have you written so far?
My first book, Gulp!: The 7 Day Crash Course to Master Fear and Break Through Any Challenge has just come out in the U.S.
Gulp! is a personal development book aimed at people who have reached a crossroads in their life or are going through a big change. It provides them with a 7-step roadmap, practical tools and techniques and action plans as well as inspirational stories and motivational quotes.
I’ve also written and recorded three audio books which are available on iTunes and Amazon internationally. They are:
Power Up Brand YOU -- which is all about how to build a powerful personal brand and stand out in the crowd; ideal if you’re looking to change jobs or go for a promotion.
10 Ways to Fast Track Your Career -- which is all about how you can work smarter in your job and covers ten effective and practical strategies to get ahead at work.
Say Goodbye to Fear Forever -- which is an extract from Gulp! and covers ten powerful ways that you can overcome fear and turn it from a brake that holds you back into a propeller that moves you forward.
Do you write everyday?
Oops…you’ve just reminded me that I need to start my “daily ramblings” again.
Writing is a like muscle, and you do need to exercise it to keep it in good shape. When I do sit down and write, I have a little routine. First of all the desk has to be cleared of all papers and any junk. Secondly, I make a cup of tea in my favorite “lucky writer’s cup”. Thirdly, I make sure my two cats are settled on their cushions on my desk. And finally, I light a candle or some incense to create a relaxing vibe. Then I wait for divine inspiration. And if that doesn’t come, I go and make another cup of tea.
How long did it take you to write Gulp!?
Gulp!: the 7 Day Crash Course to Master Fear and Break Through Any Challenge is a personal development guide for people who want to face their fears, step outside their comfort zone and make fundamental changes in their life. “Gulp!” stands for “Give Up Living Passively!”
I only had about five months to write “Gulp!” from the date I signed the contract. For the first two months I suffered from “writer’s procrastination” and did everything BUT write the book. It was only when I realized that I had three months to write 60,000 words, that the panic set in and I pretty much dedicated the whole three months to writing, editing and finishing my manuscript. Luckily I made the deadline.
Gulp! was published in the U.K. by Penguin and we had a fabulous launch party in their penthouse suite overlooking the River Thames in London. What I liked about Penguin was how quickly they “got” me and got the concept of “Gulp!” As a first-time author, they took a big risk on me, which is something I’ll never forget.
Not long afterwards Bantam Dell snapped up the U.S. rights to Gulp! and it has just been launched. Once again it was a huge honor to be published by such a reputable New York publisher.
The major advantage of being with a big publisher is the distribution opportunities and the media contacts that they have. If anyone is going to get your career off the ground, it’ll be them. The main disadvantage is that you’re a small fish in a big pond and you might not get the individual attention that comes from being with a smaller publisher.
Which aspects of the work that you put into the book did you find most difficult?
When my first contract arrived, it was one of the scariest moments of my life. After all that dreaming, there, right in front of me on the kitchen table, was a contract. Now all I had to do was write 60,000 words -- and make ‘em good ones. It was a real moment and it was this experience which motivated me to explore fear in such detail when I was writing Day 2 of Gulp! I tried all the techniques out on myself first -- and thankfully they worked.
Another big challenge for me as a first time author was finding my own “writing rhythm.” After much trial and error I discovered that I wrote better in the mornings and evenings. So I used to go to the gym in the afternoon.
I really enjoyed doing the research and conducting interviews. It made what I was doing feel very real and really motivated me to keep going.
Another part that I enjoyed was the editing process.
When I’d written a huge chunk of copy, I’d head off to Starbucks with a red pen and put my “editor’s hat” on, crafting it, shaping it and tightening it up. It was like being an archeologist dusting off the top soil to reveal the ancient gems below.
What sets Gulp! apart from other things you've written?
Gulp! is my first book and in many ways it has become my benchmark for everything that follows. I feel so much more confident now about sitting down and writing the next book. I’ve found my writer’s voice. And I’ve discovered my writer’s rhythm.
There are some things I’m definitely going to do differently. One thing is to leave at least two weeks for the final manuscript to “marinade” before going through the final edits. And another thing is to ban anything containing chocolate from the house!
What will your next book be about?
My next books is going to be a career guide for people who really want to accelerate their success and find a greater sense of fulfillment. I can’t go into too much detail about it, but basically it will be an easy to read, insightful and practical self-coaching guide that will help people make fundamental shifts in who they’re being, what they’re doing and how they’re performing.
What has been your most significant achievement as a writer?
My most significant achievement as a writer was to actually get published. I’m originally from New Zealand which is a small country “down under” with only 4 million people. So to have been commissioned and published in the U.S. and the U.K. is a big achievement, especially given how many great writers there are out there.
I’m hoping this will be the first of many books to get published!
How did you get there?
If you’ve ever seen the New Zealand rugby team, cricket team or sailing team in action you’d have seen an immense amount of discipline, focus and determination. So I guess some of that “Kiwi zeal” has rubbed off on me too!