Author’s Bookshelf: Niamh Ennis on creating the book she needed most when life was at its toughest
Writer, podcaster, and Ireland’s leading change and transformation coach, Niamh Sheeran Ennis tells us how writing became a driving force in her personal and professional life, her all-time favourite reads, and some words of wisdom for fellow writers.
Earlier this week, we shared an extract from Niamh Sheeran Ennis’ manifesto on moving from pain to power, Get Unstuck, and today we’re catching up with the author her journey to becoming an author, her favourite books, and the beauty of writing to your younger self.
Did you always want to be a writer/author?
Yes. Always. At the age of six, my mum gave me my First Holy Communion Prayer Book and I started rewriting the contents immediately. I knew then, that this was what I wanted to do with my life.
What inspired you to start writing?
Because I bought into the idea that you can’t make a living from writing (which is actually true), I followed a different career path, but with hindsight, I can see that writing featured in every decision I made, including studying English at University to create a career in communications, although I didn’t always realise it! Like so many others, I kept a diary from the age of seven and still do, although today I call it journaling!
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m not sure I have one, as writing is just part of my everyday routine, whether I’m journaling or writing an article. The days I don’t write always leave me feeling out of sorts. It’s what I do first thing every single day once I’ve walked the dog!
Where did the idea for this book come from?
I played with the idea of writing a novel for years, but when it turned out that my own life made the best plot of all! So, I started leaning more towards writing a cross between a memoir and a self-development book that would aid others. Essentially, I wrote the book I could have done with when I began experiencing my own life changing events. This wasn’t the first attempt – that was the one I needed to write for myself, but that nobody needed to read. This was the second version and the right one!
What did you learn when writing this book?
That I write best when I block out all thoughts of who I know might be reading my words and write just to myself. I write to my younger self and that brings out an honesty in my words. I also learned that I adore the writing part, but I detest all the other layers that you have to go through before you get to hold the book in your hands.
Three words to describe your writing process:
Activating, courageous, inspiring.
Do you have any quirky habits when writing?
I have to have a few things before I can begin: my Byredo Woods candle, a very strong coffee, a photo of my Dad and my precious carnelian crystal. Then I’m good to go.
The first book you remember reading is…
I’m not sure if it was the first, but the one that made me understand the power of telling a story was Maeve Binchy’s Light a Penny Candle.
Your favourite Irish author is…
It has to be Maeve Binchy. Nobody comes close.
The book you gift everyone is…
The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer.
Three books everyone should read:
Light is the New Black by Rebecca Campbell
Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr Brian Weiss
The Complete Works of Florence Shovel Shinn
Do you listen to music when you write?
Nope. I need silence otherwise I find that I can be too easily influenced by what I’m listening to!
The best money you ever spent as a writer was on…
My very large desktop screen.
The three books you’d bring with you to a desert island are…
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
A Year of Miracles by Marianne Williamson
I May be Wrong by Björn Natthiko
A quote you love is…
“The person who tries to keep everyone happy often ends up feeling the loneliest. Unknown.
The book you always return to is…
Women who run with the Wolves”
– Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Seeing your book in shops is…
Totally surreal. It will never feel normal.
One book you wish you had written is…
Anything by Rebecca Campbell. Her writing is so pure, honest, and she speaks to my very soul in a way no author can.
How do you use social media as an author?
Social media has helped me to get used to exposing parts of my life I would not feel comfortable doing normally. I’ve learned that when you are fully yourself on social media, and speak or write from your soul, those who need to hear your message always will.
Should books be judged by their covers? How did you pick yours?
Yes, I think they should. I instantly get a feeling from the cover of the book — which the vast majority of the time will tell me if this is a book I need to read. I had a very clear vision on how I wanted my cover to look from the start, as I’ve always had a deep connection to pink peony roses. I knew as soon as I spotted this image that it was going to be the centrepiece of my cover.
Do you find it hard not to procrastinate when writing?
Honestly, no. My daily routine is quite structured, so when I sit down to write I usually get stuck in. However, it really helps when you are working to make an outline and have a pretty good idea exactly what part you need to focus on that day.
The best advice you’ve ever gotten is:
Not to write what you think you should write, but to write what your soul is calling you to share. The only way to find your voice is to start writing, and if you don’t know what to say, then write what you most need to hear.
Order your copy of Niamh Sheeran Ennis’ Get Unstuck right here.