June 29, 2020

Interview with Alyss Thomas, Author of The Journal Writer's Companion

Alyss Thomas is a senior psychotherapist with over 30 years of experience. She is also an experienced writer who has worked as a writing coach for over 20 years. She is the author of The 1000 Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask Yourself, and her articles and poetry have appeared in numerous anthologies. As a lifelong journal-writer herself, Alyss encourages everyone who enters her practice to express themselves through the medium of creative journaling. After setting up a popular journalling group out of her home in Devon, she was encouraged by her clients and fellow writers to pen the ultimate guide to journal writing. The finished product was a book called The Journal Writer’s Companion, which explores every type of journalling you can think of along with the mental health benefits they bring.

"This book was waiting for me to write it for some time, and I am the only person who could have written this particular book!"

What inspired you to write The Journal Writer’s Companion?

This was a combination of having taught myself original methods of effective journalling over many years and teaching these methods to students. I wrote many pdfs for my students, but they kept turning into a book!  This book was waiting for me to write it for some time, and I am the only person who could have written this particular book!

What was the most challenging aspect of the writing process?

The writing went well as I am well versed in my topic and I am already an experienced writer. The most challenging part was having a very short submission date, so it meant that I had to drop the rest of my life for several months in order to write full time. However, staying in all summer to write was good preparation for being stuck indoors during the pandemic as quarantine felt pretty normal to me! 

What was the publishing process like and how long did it take?

If I remember correctly, this took about a year. The process was very easy and enjoyable. The communications with the editor and designer went very well, as they were very well chosen. They really appreciated the message of the book, and they made it look fantastic. I really enjoyed being with this publishing house as I felt I was treated much better than I would have been by a big house, and all the care and effort they put in was outstanding.

What part of being a published author have you most enjoyed?

It has been fun having such an attractive book available as a support to my work and to add something extra to my courses. I have always felt positive about the book since the day my author's copies arrived and my teenage son, who is normally unimpressed by his mother, stole a copy to show his friends. In fact, he also used it as a way to acquire a girlfriend, as he posted a photo of the book on Instagram and when the girl looked up my address online she found he lived just around the corner.

Is there anything about becoming a published author that has surprised you?

It has sometimes amused me how it seems you and your message receive more respect once you are a published author! I am the same person that I was before this book was published. However, this has been of benefit as it has encouraged people to sign up for my courses.

What advice would you give to someone who is writing a book about a creative hobby?

It is not really enough just to be interested in your hobby, you have to be interested in sharing and communicating and putting it across to people in a way they can absorb and put into practice. I would recommend teaching your subject, either locally or online, or writing an ebook, before you write your book, as this will help you understand how to convey your subject effectively, and learn the kinds of things people ask or need to learn about. 

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