Author and leadership coach Gabriella Goddard is the founder of Goddard International Ltd. In her book, Gulp!, Goddard teaches how to understand and overcome fear, step out of the 'comfort zone' enchainment, and fulfill our goals. She's currently touring the blogosphere to promote Gulp!
Hi, Gabrielle. It's nice to have you here. When did you decide you wanted to become an author?
My writer’s journey has been an interesting one. 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 math and science so I’d “never be out of a job.”
As it was I ended up in Marketing, and worked around the world in senior international marketing roles for about 15 years. Then, when the dot com bubble burst and I was left without a job, I decided to branch out on my own and set up Goddard International Ltd., a leadership and personal development coaching business. These days I combine Executive Coaching and Leadership Development with my passion for writing books, ebooks, audio books and articles.
Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?
As a child I loved reading. My favorite books were “Nancy Drew” and it wasn’t uncommon to find me finishing off the last chapter by torchlight, hidden under the duvet covers way past lights out. I also loved books by “Enid Blyton” and for some reason I got onto “Mills & Boons” at quite an early age (back in the days when they were still relatively tame.)
Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.
Life unravels itself in mysterious ways. 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. I asked myself “If not now… then when?” And that’s when I began to write again.
Gulp!: The 7 Day Crash Course to Master Fear and Break Through Any Challenge is the result of this catalytic moment. And underpinning Gulp! is my own 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.
If there's one thing my experience has taught me, it’s that often in life the important stuff gets buried under the daily hum drum. Then sh*t happens and all of a sudden we're taking action – fast! But why do we need a wake up call to do the things that really matter?
My wish for others is that they don’t need to wait for a wake up call. Instead, Gulp! can provide them with the game plan, the inspiration and the practical techniques they need to turn their idea or a dream into a reality – calmly and swiftly, and without the crisis.
From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take?
It was just after New Years when I put the stake in the ground and committed to writing Gulp!. I was running a seminar at Lehman Brothers and made the commitment in front of 150 people. Once I’d charted my course, things happened really fast. I had signed with an agent by February, and then by April my contract with Penguin was finalized. My deadline was the end of October to submit my final manuscript. “Gulp!” came out in the U.K. five months later in May and then it launched in the U.S. in January this year.
Are you a disciplined writer?
When I first started writing I had this romantic notion that I would be overcome by divine inspiration and the words would simply flow through my fingers. I quickly realized that for me, it didn’t quite work like this. From my experience, writing a book is about 20% inspiration and 80% discipline. And the hardest part for me was actually getting the words written down. My brain was buzzing with ideas, but at the end of the day when you’ve committed to deliver 60,000 words, you gotta get ‘em down on paper.
After a lot of trial and error, I discovered my “writer’s rhythm.” In the early morning I’d commit to getting as many words on paper as possible. In the late morning I’d have a break and do some google research for the next day. Then I’d take the afternoon off and come back to it in the evening where I’d shape and edit what I’d written in the morning.
If I hadn’t done this, Gulp! would never have been written.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?
I remember one day when I was writing Gulp! I got really bad case of writer’s block. It could have been something to do with the fact that it was a beautiful sunny day outside and there I was stuck inside. Anyway, I decided to go to the gym to see if a workout would get my creative energy flowing again.
As I was going through my paces on the treadmill, by a stroke of serendipity Natasha Bedingfield came on the radio singing her song “Unwritten.” Her words were very apt: “Staring at the blank page before you, open up the dirty window, let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find. Reaching for something in the distance, so close you can almost taste it, release your inner visions. Feel the rain on your skin, no one else can feel it for you – only you can let it in.”
Ever since then, this song has been my antidote to writer’s block!
How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?
Prior to even pitching to publishers, I spent six months working with a fabulous Book Coach, Julia McCutchen, who helped me hone my proposal writing and helped me to believe that I could actually string some coherent sentences together. I pitched my newly honed proposal to five mainstream publishers and I was overjoyed when two of them called me in for a meeting. They liked my ideas, but felt they weren’t quite “strong enough” to be commissioned. Despite falling at the last hurdle, it was a huge confidence boost and I realized that this was serious now. It was time to find an agent. Like many things in life, often it’s not what you know, but who you know that really counts. I was coaching a TV presenter at the time and she’d just had her first book published. She kindly introduced me to her literary agent who signed me straight away. My agent then pitched to the publisher and we had a signed contract within two months.
My advice to novice authors is to get an agent first. Many publishers aren’t taking on authors without one. So finding a good agent is the first hurdle. An agent will be interested in a manuscript that is creative and different, yet still commercial. They will be interested in an author who is marketable and has the ability to be a brand. So novice authors need to cover off both the creative and the commercial aspects of being a published author.
What type of book promotion seems to work the best for you?
Through trial and error, I’ve discovered that the book marketing methods that suit me the best are the online ones – virtual book tours, blogs, podcasts, article writing, online radio and video clips. Not only do these methods suit my more introverted nature, they offer an incredible potential to link with readers who might never have the opportunity to hear about my work because they don’t live in the same town – or even in the same country.
As an author, I think it’s really important that you find out what works for you. And that will take time. It’ll also cost money so expect to invest – and expect to make mistakes along the way.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
One piece of advice Julia gave me which was invaluable, was not to edit my writing while I was typing it. She suggested getting the words down on paper first, let them settle for a day and then go back and edit them. She also made a very interesting point about the link between the writer and “the work.” She said that more often than not, what we write about is either a reflection of what we’ve been through or what we’re going through. That’s why Gulp! is very personal to me, because it reflects the process I went through to face my fears about my breast cancer scare and use this crisis as that catalyst to fulfill my childhood dream of being a writer.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
You can learn more about “Gulp!” or any of my other self-improvement titles at www.gulptime.com. Plus, for a limited time only, I’m running a One Big Gulp! campaign for people who are ready to take the bull by the horns and make a commitment to turning a dream into a reality. People can sign up for free, and they’ll receive the downloadable One Big Gulp! Kit which includes a free 20 page eWorkbook, daily motivational emails for 30 days, regular podcasts and the chance to win some prizes. More about that at www.gulptime.com.
Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
My next book is going to be a guide for people who really want to accelerate their success and find a greater sense of fulfillment at work. 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 work around who they’re being, what they’re doing and how they’re performing.
Plus I’ve started to shape an idea for a novel which is very exciting. It’ll be a bit of a 'gulp' because it’ll mean stepping outside my comfort zone of non-fiction writing – but I feel ready to give it a shot. I’ve decided to go to the Maui Writers Conference this year to really get me into the groove.
Anything else you’d like to say about yourself or your work?
One of the creative challenges I set myself was to write and create a book trailer for Gulp!. The big question was how do you encapsulate the essence of a 60,000 word book into a video clip with less than 100 words? So here it is… just turn the speakers on, sit back and enjoy!
Watch the book trailer here.