As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
On The Table Read, “the best creativity magazine in the UK“, Sharon Kinder talks about the work that went into her new book, The Wellness Journal, and how she hopes to help her readers.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed mental health first aid trainer and wellbeing specialist Sharon Kinder about what inspired her to write her new book, The Wellness Journal.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
Born and bred in Huddersfield, UK, I left school with just two O-levels and a judgement from teachers that I ‘wouldn’t amount to much’. But I didn’t let that hold me back. I have learned that if you’re determined enough, you can do anything you want to.
I have worked as an HR professional for over 25 years, specialising in inclusion and wellbeing. I am a CIPD Fellow, coach, mediator and mental health first aid trainer and run a specialist HR consultancy, Northern Powerhouse Consulting, focusing on inclusion, workplace wellbeing and mental health.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I have always wanted to write a book, but for a long time, self-doubt stopped me. It felt too hard and difficult, and I worried about my dyslexia. I also worried about who would buy it. Earlier this year, a friend was writing her book and asked me why I had never done it. She encouraged me to speak to a book editor, Gail Powell. Gail helped me realise that I just needed to switch my focus. I didn’t need to worry about my dyslexia or whether it was going to be a Times bestseller. I just needed to write it.
When did you take a step to start writing?
After speaking with Gail in May 2022, I started writing a few days later. I had some spare time with the extra bank holidays that month, and she encouraged me to try. Once I started writing, the words kept on flowing.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
I was surprised by how quick it was once I finally got started. It took about two weeks to get the content down on paper and four months from when I began writing to receiving the first printed copy. I knew what I wanted the book to look like, so it was vital to find the right illustrator. Ivy Trazsi has a fantastic talent and brought what was in my head to life in pictures. This was so important as we all learn in different ways, and I wanted people to be able to connect with the book visually as well as read it.
Once I had the right people around me, the journey wasn’t nearly as daunting as I thought it would be. The official launch took place in October to coincide with World Mental Health Day. It was such a memorable occasion, being surrounded by so many people and receiving such positive feedback on the book.
What made you want to write The Wellness Journal?
Promoting mental wellness has been a core part of my career for the last twenty-five years. But earlier this year, the time was finally right to put all that expertise into a book that I could share with others. I felt there was a real gap in the market for a mental wellness book that was written in plain English, not scientific jargon, and was practical too. Not a self-help book to read and understand the psychology of why mental health affects us all so much. An interactive guide, sharing knowledge but also other people’s experiences as that, can give people hope.
It’s a book for ordinary folk to enjoy and benefit from. We’re brought up to think that self-care is selfish, but actually, it’s the other way around. If we’re going to be able to help other people, then we’ve got to get ourselves in the right place first. We all have mental health, whether it’s brilliant or poor. We tend to focus on poor mental health, but it’s just as important to know when things are good so we can spot the signs.
What were your biggest challenges with writing The Wellness Journal?
The confidence to get started was definitely the biggest challenge. The content of the book is what I live and breathe every day, and I feel incredibly confident with. The mental barrier I had to overcome was delivering that in a book format rather than a live in-person training session.
It’s also been a difficult few years for me personally, going through a divorce and the grief of losing a close friend. I finally felt ready to share some of my coping strategies and the journey I have been through to help others. I might be an expert in mental health, but it doesn’t mean I am immune from mental health issues. We are all a work in progress.
What was your research process for The Wellness Journal?
LinkedIn was a brilliant source of research information. I sent a message to my contacts saying that I was writing a book about wellbeing and asking them for their thoughts about what they would like to see. A couple of things came out strongly from their responses, which shaped the Journal’s structure. People wanted practical activities to engage with that could help improve their wellbeing and real-life personal stories to inspire them, not medical jargon. That encouraged me to share some of my personal experiences in the book, making it accessible and people-focused.
How did you plan the structure of The Wellness Journal?
I started by stripping everything right back and thinking about what people really needed to know about wellbeing. The book opens up with the key aspects of wellbeing – reflection, self-importance, self-confidence, self-esteem and resilience. Then it moves into the ten anchors of life I have developed, the ‘headers’ in life that give us stability.
Working collaboratively with my editor Gail we shaped the content into a journal style, creating areas for self-reflection and practical exercises throughout the book to challenge the reader and help them turn thoughts into action. For example, many of us know we need to drink more water or eat healthier foods. But how often do we actually do it? The book encourages you to take the challenge for seven days and write down how you feel as a result. Completing the exercises is about taking responsibility for what wellbeing means for every one of us. We are all unique.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did The Wellness Journal need?
My book editor Gail was fantastic. She gave me the confidence to get started and shaped my ideas into a suitable format. When it came to editing the draft, I was surprised by how little she changed, which further fuelled my confidence. She suggested a few tweaks to break a few areas down into separate chapters. When you live and breathe a topic every day, it can be hard to think from a fresh perspective. That’s where book editors can be so valuable, helping you translate what you want to say into a finished product that works for the reader.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Just be you. Don’t worry about anybody else. We’ve all got our own aspirations and our favourite authors. But if you are inspired to write a book, then it must be authentic to you. It’s your baby, so believe in yourself. Don’t worry about who will buy it or whether it will sell. Just think about what you want to deliver.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I have already begun work on a second book focusing specifically on men’s mental health, which will be published in early 2023. I still regularly come across men who struggle to talk about their emotions. I hope that by designing a journal tailored for them, I can create a safe space where they can get their feelings out, even if they don’t feel they can talk to anybody. I have also designed an online course to accompany the book. The half-day session encourages participants to look inward at their mental health, understand their values system and discover how to put themselves and their mental health centre stage.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Definitely. I am very proud of my achievement, and it was totally worth the effort. It was a real wow moment when I got the first copy in the post. I couldn’t quite believe I had done it! Publishing the book has really increased my confidence and given me a new way of reaching people to help improve their wellness. I wanted to provide practical, honest advice, sharing coping strategies, tools and techniques that can help us all take better care of our mental wellbeing. If this book saves one life, then it’s a job well done.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
We strive to keep The Table Read free for both our readers and our contributors. If you have enjoyed our work, please consider donating to help keep The Table Read going!
Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.