Writing might be simple, but it’s not easy and if you want longevity as a creative, you have to look after yourself. In today’s show, I discuss self-care for authors with Ellen Bard.
In the intro, I talk about the importance of considering your genre from the perspective of readers (article and graph I mentioned here). Plus, how the indie-published, hardback Freedom Journal made $450,000 on launch – check out the interview here.
Thanks to all show listeners as we’ve ticked over 1 million downloads which is awesome! I also mention my own mindset changes and the documentary on Tony Robbins: I am not your guru, available on Netflix.
Today’s show is sponsored by my own Self-Publishing Success course: If you are confused or overwhelmed by all the options for self-publishing, if you’re frustrated that you’re not selling any books or wondering why self-publishing isn’t working for you – then this multimedia course might be for you. Click here for more information, including a behind-the-scenes video walkthrough with me.
Ellen Bard is a work psychologist, business consultant, paranormal romance author, travel writer and digital nomad.
- How Ellen manages her creative life while living the life of a digital nomad.
- The balance between structure and flexibility.
- The use of the Pomodoro method to keep production on track.
- The different ways “Morning Pages” can benefit writers, and different ways to do them.
- On self-care, what it means, and how writing aids well-being.
- How health issue can be a wake-up call for writers.
- Ways that indie authors can show themselves compassion, including suggestions for taking care of our physical, emotional and mental well-being.
- Reframing the negative voice in our heads.
- Reviewing our journal writing and different lessons that come from this.
- How backing up computer systems works for this digital nomad.
- The personality characteristics required to be a digital nomad
You can find Ellen at www.EllenBard.com/penn, a special landing page with extra resources for listeners to the show. Ellen’s also on Twitter @ellenbard
Transcript of Interview with Ellen Bard
Joanna Penn: Hi everyone. I’m Joanna Penn, from thecreativepenn.com, and today I’m here with Ellen Bard. Hi Ellen.
Ellen Bard: Hi Joanna. Lovely to be here.
Joanna: Great to have you on the show. Just a little introduction.
Ellen is a work psychologist, a business consultant, paranormal romance author, travel writer, and digital nomad which is very exciting. Now Ellen, you seem to have all these things going on.
Tell us just a bit more about your life and how it all works together. And, where are you in the world?
Ellen: Right now, I’m talking to you from Chiang Mai, Thailand. And yeah, it’s a bit of an unusual lifestyle I think. So about four or five years ago, I lived in the UK. I did my 60 hour weeks, and it was soul-sucking. I didn’t have very much of a life.
For various reasons, I decided to take a sabbatical, take a break. Went traveling for a few months, did the “Artist’s Way”, and basically changed my life. I came out to Thailand, and I met all these interesting people, digital nomads as you say, who seem to have a better lifestyle than I had.
Between the “Artist’s Way” and this concept of the digital nomad, I refocused on what was important to me and what my values were. I discovered a passion for writing that I didn’t even know that I had. And then I started to get into all these things, so I started a travel blog first. And then a personal development blog, I’m a childhood psychologist so that helps with the personal development stuff.
Then I started writing fiction, paranormal romance. Yeah, all of these things. And I also continue to freelance consultant, last year I did 112 flights, and I went to countries from China to Saudi Arabia. So it’s a bit of a juggle, but basically I get to go to a ton of cool places and have the freedom to write, which is really more than most of us can ask for.
Joanna: Wow. It’s amazing. I talk a lot about traveling on my show, and it’s always a challenge for me to talk to someone like you because half the time I think that’s what I want to do, and then after examining my own creative process, I really need to live that incredibly boring life in order to get my writing done. And then go away, and then travel, and then come back.
How do you manage that creative process when your life itself is so in flux?
Ellen: That is a great question, and one I ask myself everyday. I have a lot of lists. I’m a list-queen. I use Dave Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methodology. I have an accountability group, whom I check in with each week, that gives me goals for the week.
Then ideally, each night, I set my goals for the day. Basically, I’m very structured, in a world of constant change. And it means being a lot more flexible and resilient, and I think I am as an actually personality trait. I am highly structured.
But what I’ve learned is to be much more comfortable with going with the flow. This week, a job has come up for me that I can do here, a consulting job. It means some time out of the week when I’d already planned the week out, and I’m kind of relaxed about that. Sort of. But structure, basically, combined with flexibility and change.
Joanna: Which is fascinating. Then, I want to ask about your fiction, and does that pour into your fiction? Are you a highly structured outliner? And how does that work with the “Artist’s Way”? Because I think the “Artist’s Way” is the “Morning Pages,” which is basically just blurb on the pages, right. Just continuously without thinking too much which doesn’t, again, fit with that structure.
How do you do your fiction with that type of approach?
Ellen: That’s a great question. I do “Morning Pages” every day. I would say, I probably do 29 days out of 30. And I’ve done that for three, four years. And actually, that really helps with the structure. Because what it means is, all the messiness that’s in my head, I kind of get out.
I go through “Morning Pages,” my old “Morning Pages” once every three months. I just check in to make sure there’s nothing that I’ve missed, because I’m anally retentive and I don’t want to miss anything.
And then, once that’s out of the way, then I try and be very structured in my day. That might be using Pomodoro Technique.
I usually go to cafes. If I go to cafes, the same kind of cafes every day, so there’s maybe three that I rotate between in Chiang Mai, where I am now, that gives me some structure. If I go about the same time, that gives me some structure, in the morning.
I have a morning routine, which involves a tenuous meditation of about five minutes. Always “Morning Pages,” that’s really grounding for me, and some other bits and pieces. Actually doing that morning routine, and I guess the nightly routine of setting out my goals for the next day, that really helps as well.
Again, the more structured I can be around that flexibility, the better. With the fiction, there’s some challenge there because I’m juggling so many projects.
The personal development blog, which is nonfiction, and hopefully there’ll be a nonfiction book at some point around that, because of all the plans. That involves quite a lot of work, as you know. You’ve got a blog. It’s a whole ton of work. I’m developing, I already have a couple of products out there.
I tend to set myself word counts. So again, for me it’s about giving myself goals.
When I wrote the first book, the very first draft which was a “very shitty first draft,” as they say. That’s a quote.
Joanna: That is a quote.
Ellen: I set myself a target of a 1,000 words a day, every week day for however many months that I wanted to do the manuscript. And actually having that structure got me there. Little and often, was enough to get me there. And I could do that around other things.
And the same with the second book. I’m at the editing stage of that. Again, having that structure has helped. I find editing harder, I don’t know about you, just in terms of it’s harder to say to myself, “Well, how many words have you done?” Because when is editing really done?
Joanna: Oh, yeah.
Ellen: If I take away words, does that count? If I add words, does that count? That’s more blurry for me in terms of setting clear goals. But again, I tend to do Pomodoros around that, and say, “Okay, I’m going to X Pomodoros in a day,” and then that works. But it is a constant.
I’m sure it’s the same for most people, especially people who are doing jobs around their writing. It’s a constant juggle of, “Okay, I’ve got these different priorities. How do I make sure that I keep fiction high on that priority list, because I love it?”
Joanna: Yeah. And also, especially at the beginning, like you say, it doesn’t make you any money for quite long time. Fiction in particular is one of those things that just doesn’t earn it’s time, for quite a long time. Whereas you know, if you blog or do a nonfiction book, you’re far more likely to earn that money back in terms of your time. But I want to ask you, just so people know.
Explain what Pomodoro is, in case people don’t know.
Ellen: Pomodoro Technique is a technique of chunking your time up essentially. The typical Pomodoro is 25 minutes. You set a timer for 25 minutes, very straightforward. You only do that task for those 25 minutes.
For most people, and for me for sure, turn off your internet, turn off your phone, don’t have any of these beeps and distractions around you. Do the thing for 25 minutes, and then give yourself a 5 minute break. And depending on the method, you do several Pomodoros and then you have a longer break.
It’s a way of really focused attention for short periods of time, which is more productive than just, “Oh, I have a break at some point.”
Joanna: Then I also just wanted to ask about the “Morning Pages” again.
As a psychologist, if you step outside of your own kind of practice, what are the benefits of “Morning Pages” and kind of brain-dumping?
Ellen: I think there’s a few different things for “Morning Pages,” and I think you can use it in different ways as well. I think that’s important.
One thing, for example, is I do my “Morning Pages” on the computer. So I have some chronic pain issues, and free-writing for me is not very fun. I don’t enjoy it. It hurts. So, I would much rather type. And actually, I find that the words actually flow onto the page more easily.
Julia Cameron, who wrote “The Artist’s Way,” I feel she wanted people to free-write because it was 20 years ago, and we didn’t have computers. And so before, people like you and I were so fluid with our computers, that we just don’t think about typing.
I think we can be flexible about “Morning Pages”. So I type mine out. I think you can do several things.
Free-writing is literally just write whatever’s in your head. And I think that can be really useful for, just like cleaning out. Imagine you’re sweeping a house, that’s what I think of. Get rid of whatever stuff is mumbling along in your head, whatever you’re thinking about. Just get it out on the page, clean it out. And then, if you want to later you can go back and see was there anything useful in that.
But journaling is a practice, and I think you can use “Morning Pages” as a way of journaling as well, can be super helpful for people who are trying to process something difficult. I think the research suggests something like 3 to 5 sessions of maybe 15 to 20 minutes each, on one particular issue. And that’s enough to I guess process it, and de-charge it for people.
Take out some of the heightened notions around it. And that’s an incredibly powerful practice.
But, one of the things that research says, is don’t do it to death. So that’s enough then. Once you’ve done it for those sessions, let it go and move on.
Sometimes when I go back in my “Morning Pages” over a three month block, I see something that’s come up a lot more than those times. And that for me is a sign that that’s something I need to address in a different way. So if something is a longer term challenge, probably not a huge deal, but nonetheless it’s coming up, then it’s something that I need to look at. There’s obviously something bothering me, or just something I need to resolve.
Joanna: That’s a great point. In reviewing my own journals from the last 25 years or something, for the book I wrote on mindset, which you very kindly beta read for me. Looking at the things that come up over and over again for writers. Things like self doubt and fear of failure, like these are things that may never ever go away for anyone. And I compare that to when I got divorced in my late 20s, and I had about three whole journals full of pain. And then it disappeared. I read those and I can’t even recognize that person anymore.
It is a very healing practice in that way. Now, I want to come back to you mentioned chronic pain, and you have an emphasis on self-care on your website. So tell us about that.
Where does all that come from, and if you can share anything that might help the listeners?
Ellen: Definitely. Let’s define self-care first of all, because it’s one of these slightly new aged flaky terms. I’m not any of those things. I am very grounded, but I think it’s a really useful term.
All self-care is is looking after yourself. Usually around physical, emotional, mental aspects of the self. And having that kind of self-kindness, or self-compassion around those areas. That’s what self-care is.
Now for me, I started with a very practical focus on self-care, because maybe 14 or years ago or 15 years ago I had a car accident. I was on my way to an early consulting job, and my first training course in Manchester. It was snowing, and a lorry went into my car basically. And that car accident, over time, left me with a chronic pain issue, which is essentially pain that you can’t really get rid of. Which is obviously very tedious.
And then, about five or six years ago, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, which is an immune system disorder. And it’s also not much fun.
Those two things gave me a very solid realization, wake-up call I guess, that I couldn’t really go on as I was. I was working a 60 hour week, working in a high-octane business in London. I loved my job. It wasn’t a bad job. It was good in many ways, but I was basically being ground down from my own challenges, as well as the role itself.
Whilst working on those conditions, and both of those are chronic conditions, which basically means they don’t really go away, you have to just deal with them. I started to really look into this concept of self-care, and look at how do I need to take care of myself better. That then led to in part taking a sabbatical, going to Thailand, and all of these other things.
When I started realizing how much I enjoyed writing, when I discovered blogging, all of these different aspects I thought, “Huh, okay. There’s something there for me around sharing some of that with other people.” Because, I obviously have a background in psychology, and so I’m able to ground my personal experience and the experiences of the people that I work with, in that evident space. Which I think is really important, particularly in self-help, self-development where there’s lots of different stuff out there, and some of it is more helpful than others.
Joanna: It’s an awful story, and yet it seems quite a common story with writers. The number of people who email me with chronic pain, or something, or a big health issue has happened which has then changed their life in some way.
How do you think writing helps people with chronic pain? Is there something there that is healing, or is it just the best way of making a living if you have that type of condition?
Ellen: I’m not sure writing is ever the best way to make a living from a financial perspective. But from an internal perspective, I think yeah. I think there’s a few different things there.
One is that often people have these health issues, whatever they are, and it changes something inside of them. And it gives them a different perspective, much as it did for me.
And you think, “Wait a minute. If I’m going to be in this world and I’ve had this mortality wake-up even if it’s not that extreme, what do I actually want to be doing with my time?” Writing is one of the things that many people love and are passionate about and want to do. So that’s the first thing.
The second thing is that writing is a profession that you can do on your own time. You don’t have a manager in a office, sitting looking at you, tapping their watch saying, “We have to stay until 5:01, otherwise you’re out.”
You have a lot more flexibility. If you want write in the middle of the night, you can. If you want to write in an hour’s block and then have a sleep, you can. For many people with chronic health conditions, that is really freeing for them to be able to work to their own schedule.
And then the third piece is probably what you say around just this idea of working through some of our issues in fiction. I know you know a bit about who I am, of challenges that I’ve gone through that I then forced my poor characters to go through in different ways. Or even in darker ways, in more dramatic ways. It can be a way of processing some of the things that we’ve gone through in a more healthy way. And then we can share those with other people, and give them that experience and that freedom.
Joanna: I totally agree with all that. I think it’s just amazingly useful. You also mentioned compassion earlier, which was really interesting. And often, especially in the community, there’s this real focus on that you must get this number of words done. You even mentioned it earlier. It’s hard to measure if you’ve got your words done.
I wonder if compassion for ourselves as writers is lacking at the moment. You do X thousand words a day, and get the books out, that type of thing.
What are some practical ways, indie authors in particular can show themselves some compassion, self-care?
Ellen: I would definitely agree with you. I think that we can be very tough on ourselves as indies. You have to look at the popular books around. Write 5,000 words, and… Which I own all those books, and I love them because I love productivity stuff. But sometimes I do step back and think, “Whoa. Just relax. It’s all good.”
For writers in particular, I think there’s a few different aspects where we can definitely be kinder to ourselves. The first one, and the most obvious one in many ways, is the physical. Often as writers, we see ourselves as a brain.
Maybe a brain with a pair of hands if we’re on a good day. Rarely do we remember that actually that brain comes in a body, and there’s a whole load of other stuff around the brain that needs looking after. The basic stuff around getting enough sleep, eating the right foods, not over-caffeinating or over-sugaring in your day when you’ve got the cookies or the biscuits down in the kitchen…
I love coffee. So again, I’m not criticizing. It’s more just keeping an eye on them, and balancing them out. Caffeine alone isn’t going to get any of us to write more words.
It should be an enjoyable thing that we enjoy, and we love drinking, rather than something that is a crutch to make sure we hit that word count. So looking after the physical is most definitely the first thing. Whether that’s joining Dave from the self-publishing podcasters Fitbit community, which I have done.
The physical is first thing. But for me, it’s the emotional piece for writers that is more pervasive, and probably more of an issue that we don’t even see. For example, this idea of the self-critique.
All of us have in our head a kind of constant, in the background narrative that goes on. And for indies it might say, “You haven’t done enough words. Your work is rubbish. You need to do more. Why didn’t you do your marketing today? You should’ve been doing your Twitter, and doing your words, and doing this, and doing that, etc, etc. Your plot is terrible. No one’s going to read this rubbish.”
I imagine some of us can resonate with that. But recognizing that that self-critique is not the reality. That’s just a voice in your head. It doesn’t mean anything. It comes from you environment, or the influences around you. The one tip that I can give to people is to try and reframe that voice.
First of all, notice the voice. And whether that means jotting down when you hear something that that voice says, or just keeping an eye on it and seeing what the themes are. Recognize that that voice exists.
Then, try and reframe that voice. And the best way for most of us to do it is to imagine that instead of a critic it’s our best friend. Because all of us talk to our best friend in a much nicer way than we talk to ourselves, without question. Trying to reframe that voice and say, “Okay, wait a minute. I’ve written 2,500 words. I’m tired. I need a break. What would my best friend say to me right now? Would she say, “Well those 2,000 words were rubbish. You need to do them again, and do an extra.” Probably she wouldn’t say that.” Just trying to re-frame that critic as a best friend is a really great tip.
Taking breaks is also important. One of the things that the the “Artist’s Way” talks about, I think is very beautiful, is this idea of filling the creative well, and she uses “Artist’s Dates.”
You can do that in any way. Whether that’s reading a book, whether that’s going on a walk, whether that’s taking photos. We all have different ways of filling the creative well. But I think it’s critical for indies. If we don’t have something inside us to draw upon, then our writing becomes much much harder, because the well’s dry.
Joanna: I totally agree with you. One of the blocks I think people have, is they haven’t filled their well enough, so of course there’s nothing to come out. You’re blocked in that way, which is really interesting.
I want to circle back to what you said about “Morning Pages.” You said every couple of months you go back, and you look through them, in some way. I always think every time I finish a notebook I feel like, “Yeah, I should go back through it and have a look.” And then I never do.
Years later, I go through and go, “Oh my goodness. I had that idea back then. That’s kind of crazy.”
Why do you do that process of reviewing? And you just talked about critical voice, how do you stop yourself, judging yourself? And, how do you find the gold in these pages?
Ellen: It’s a challenge. I won’t lie to you. I try and be disciplined and only do it every three months. So I do my “Morning Pages” in Word. It’s pretty much the only thing I use Word for. Scrivener is what I use for everything else.
A journal is a 100,000 words, which is about 3 months in a Word document, is unwieldy. So that’s when I stop the Word document, and start another one. It gives me a nice time blocker. I try and read through, and not read it too deeply. I try and almost skim through. So that’s one of the things I do.
I try and set myself a time limit to say, “Okay. I’m not going to spend the whole day wailing and weeping over how my life is.” I look for… Are there any actions that I told myself I should take, and I haven’t for some reason. Are there any ideas that I didn’t then capture somewhere else?
Because normally I’m pretty good at moving stuff into my Scrivener to-do list. I have a whole Scrivener file of to-do list.
And then, also there’s the themes idea. As I read through the days, is there something that comes up again and again and again? And I make notes of that. Usually, I’m a big index card person because mostly I work on the computer and so I don’t have a lot of paper just because I travel. I don’t own very much stuff. Although, I love notebooks. Love them.
I tend to use index cards for my day-to-day, and then I transfer them into Scrivener. So pulling out the themes is the other practice that I do.
And I try to be kind to myself, and not spend time beating myself up about stuff that is essentially in the past. I think what you said earlier, this idea of looking back at something and realizing that something you were super stressed about, super worried about, it just is in the past and it doesn’t have that emotional charge anymore. And I think that’s really powerful, and a lesson for me every time to say, “Okay. So whatever I’m stressing about today, probably isn’t going to be as charged in six months time.”
Joanna: That’s a really good point. I think we should have an entirely different discussion on productivity, because we could obviously go into that in massive detail. But one of the things I am very interested in how you do this. So much of your life is digital, and one thing I still get emails from people who say they’ve lost work because they haven’t backed it up.
What is your backup setup in terms of how do you make sure you don’t lose all this stuff, all your pictures, all your everything?
Ellen: More than one redundant system basically. I have a Mac. I use the Mac’s own system, whatever that is called.
Joanna: Time Machine.
Ellen: Time Machine, yeah. I have a physical hard drive that not brilliantly, maybe every week, I backup to.
I also have CrashPlan, which is like a digital backup, which backs everything to the cloud. So in theory, and I’ve had my IT friends check this, many times actually, everything is backed up when I’m online. I’m not online all the time because of the lifestyle, but most of the time I’m online at least once or twice a day.
And if this wasn’t enough, I also have Dropbox and my Scrivener files. Basically, my works in progress. All of those backups are on Dropbox. I work on them on the computer, but the backup is on Dropbox.
That gives me three systems, which hopefully is enough. Because in my life, I have lost entire computers.
Oh, and I use Google Drive for photos. So my photos I put all on Google Drive as well, and I only keep… Well I say only, there’s probably 4,000 photos on this computer. But I live the kind of lifestyle where I take a lot of photos.
Joanna: I think that’s really good, because this is something I was reviewing myself, the other day. I now have a ton of external hard drives, and I have Amazon S3, which I back stuff up to. And I have the iCloud, and I have Time Machine. And I email myself everyday my work in progress, so that’s on Gmail.
I export from Scrivener, everyday, and email myself that word file. So I know that’s there with the date on.
Ellen: That’s going to be added to my list now.
Joanna: Well you kind of think, because if that Scrivener gets corrupted somehow, at least you have it on a Word document.
But it’s funny you mention CrashPlan, because I was actually looking at it yesterday going, “I think I could use another redundant system, just in case.” Because this is the thing, often we forget what we’ve done as well.
My husband will say, “When you made that video, where’s the original of that video?” And I’m like, “Um…I don’t know where that is anymore.”
But it’s so important isn’t it? Not just with your lifestyle, but in general the way we work.
Ellen: Definitely, and I think that’s a really good point. Digital file management is critical.
If you’re a writer, and you’ve got your research files, your book covers, your random marketing stuff, your Goodreads campaign, your tweets… It amazes me how many files I generate for a book essentially. All of those things, you should keep in a structured way.
I’m trying to keep the same structure for all of my books, or essentially book files. Everything is in the same format, no matter what book I’m working on. And that means that if I go to the first book, or a nonfiction book, or whatever it is, I know where things should be.
I’m obviously not perfect, but at least it gives me an idea of being in the right place. Whereas when you have one of those screens which is just full of stuff, and everything’s higgledy-piggledy, you’re gonna waste time searching for stuff, which is a frustrating thing to do I think.
Joanna: It’s funny. We’ve gone from doing “Morning Pages” to digital file management, but it’s amazing how important it is. If people listening are going, “Oh my goodness, that’s crazy,” I only think I started to do it with my book, probably on like book three.
I look back at my first novel, my first nonfiction and I’m like, “I don’t know how I managed that.” Everything’s just like, there’s no sub-folders. And now, I’m like you. I try and make sure it’s already organized, and that actually helps you because it’s a lot of work organizing a whole book. Or, organizing any project.
I did want to come back on the digital nomad thing. You’ve mentioned that you don’t have much stuff, that you live this digital life.
I wondered, is there a particular personality who can cope with this lifestyle?
Ellen: Yes. In my personal and professional opinion, there is. In order to be a digital nomad, which is just the modern way of saying someone who works online, who travels. Those would be the two key things. So, someone who can take their work with them.
I think that you need to be very independent, very autonomous. One of the key things… And this is exactly the same for writers, and I think most writers could be digital nomads if they wanted to. You need to be able to work without someone over you, telling you what to do. Because if you are not able to do that, you just won’t get anything done.
I’ve seen quite a few people come out to Chiang Mai, or the other places that I’ve been, and they just got caught up in the party lifestyle or whatever, and they haven’t been able to generate the hard work that they do.
Now on the flip side, there’s some people who come and burn out. Because all they do is work. They forget that they’re in Thailand, or Bali, or Berlin, or wherever the hub is that they’re at. And they don’t take advantage of being there, and they just work all the time. So you can burn out that way too.
The other critical thing is resilience. Again, I think this an important skill for all of us, but particularly if you are someone who is spending most of your time in a culture that isn’t your own.
If I think about Thailand, which I love and I am mostly based in Thailand these days, although I leave the country once or twice a month to go to other places. Thailand can be very confusing as a westerner. Many of the cultures are different. And you need to be both respectful of other cultures, but also be willing to make mistakes. If you’re someone who is a perfectionist, who has this strong fear of failure, and that seeps up over into your personal life, you’re going to feel stressed all the time. Because, it is impossible to know what’s going on many times.
Just something to give you a really small example in Thailand, the food here comes when it’s ready. So you don’t all get your meal at the same time. One person will get their food, and then it could be 10 minutes later someone else will get their food.
You often see westerners come here, and they get so stressed at this, I don’t know what it is, this particular thing. Maybe it’s food. And they just can’t deal with it at all. Whereas in fact, when you realize that a Thai kitchen is often one person with a gas burner. I mean it’s not even plugged into the main, so you usually have a kind of bottle-burner. They are cooking literally one meal at a time, and it’s all fresh, and it’s amazing.
But they can’t do it in the same way we that we’re used to. And that kind of really small thing really trips people up. If you imagine a life full of tiny stresses, that overall becomes incredibly stressful. And people just can’t really manage.
So autonomy and resilience… I think hard work is obviously important. If you’re not prepared to put in the work, then you’re not going to get very far. Those would be key things.
Joanna: It’s funny you mention that those little things. That is why I feel I have to travel. Because, I feel like I have to get out of my comfort zone. For me, it’s important that I don’t know how to ask to go to the toilet, for example. That’s like a real basic human thing, and if you’re in a culture where even just a basic thing like that, or ordering food pushes you out of your comfort zone, that’s a good thing.
And that’s actually what we should be doing as writers is pushing ourselves out of the comfort zone, and thinking about the world views, and all that type of thing.
That’s why I travel. But, I travel in a different way to you. I struggle to work when I travel. I take a lot of notes, and I take pictures. But then I bring it back, and use it from where I am, although I’ve moved countries a lot.
I think I romanticize your life.
Ellen: But I would say that’s partly because you know that your travel is time-bound. Whereas for me, travel is kind of what I’m doing now. That’s how I live my life. And I know that if I don’t manage to make that kind of life work, I can’t do my job.
The thing that I struggle with the most, is coming back to the UK. Whenever I come home to the UK, home, I just find it hard to tell people that I’m not on holiday, first of all. Everyone either says, “Oh, you’re on holiday when you’re in Thailand, or where ever. Or you’re on holiday in the UK. Or both, somehow.”
Whereas actually, I work all the time. I’m pretty flexible with how I work, but I have to work. It’s not really a choice. And when I come back to the UK, there are whole load of other people’s needs, I guess, that I’m constantly trying to meet. And that’s where the people-pleaser in me comes a cropper sometimes, because I struggle to manage my needs, and other people’s needs. There’s something around that that for me personally, is still a development area.
Joanna: I could talk to you for ages. We might have to have a return match at some point. Tell everybody about your various websites, and what they can find there. Because you’ve got some cool ones.
Ellen: Sure. So probably the thing that people would benefit most from is ellanbard.com, which is my name. That’s the personal development website, which really focuses on that interception between self-care and productivity. So basically, how can you get stuff done, and not kill yourself in the process.
Joanna: Nice tagline.
Ellen: Well yeah. It’s kind of evolved. It’s not the real tag right now, but that is essentially what it does. Then my fiction is at ellenbardauthor.com.
And then I also have a travel blog, should people be interested on that side, which is called whereverthewindtakesme.com. So, many places. I have many, many, many places around the web.
Joanna: And I’ve been reading both of your blogs, and what I like about them is there is a different voice for both of those sites. I quite like, I know I enjoy your travel one from that perspective. And then there’s your very authoritative, kind of psychologist voice in the other one.
Ellen: My official voice.
Joanna: Yeah, your official voice, which is great. So I hope people have heard both on this discussion. So thanks for much for your time, Ellen. That was great.
Ellen: Thank you Joanna.