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My Accidental Writing Career

Image by Amelia Bartlett

Some writers trace their desire to write back to their childhood. ‘Absolutely not’ would be my first response. It never occurred to me to write a book until I wrote Awaken Your Intuitive Vision. When I probe further I realise that books and writing were never far from my life - and I think that is the case for so many of us. We overlook the obvious.

My mother had been a librarian until I came along. She was also an avid reader of Agatha Christie novels and was fair competition with Pam Ayres for her rhyming ditties. My grandfather had taught English literature and my grandmother had been on the stage.

My equivalent to my mother’s reading habits were Enid Blyton books. I was permitted a new paperback every second Saturday which I devoured curled up in a ‘nest’ made from my mother’s bed clothes since she was bed-bound much of the time. After ballet in the morning, I was allowed to choose a book from W H Smiths and devour it while eating prawns and chips, listening to the football scores recited on the TV.

As a teenager I was exposed to a much wider range of authors at Grammar school and took full advantage of it. My English teacher, for some groundless reason, didn’t believe me capable of English literature A level. It didn’t cross my parents mind to go in to bat for me. My mother was too ill and my father had a disdain for education having been required to leave school age 15 to take up a trade. I had to study Economics instead.

Big trees from little acorns grow

I got my grades nonetheless and headed off to the University of Durham to study Anthropology. Lots of reading and writing essays ensued, longhand in those days before computers. After Uni I travelled around Africa for 6 months before I took my first ‘proper’ job. This is where writing and books start to perk up because I was employed by a mail order Book Club - a dinosaur that roamed the marketplace long before the advent of Amazon.

A bright young thing, I was soon promoted to Marketing Manager of three Book Clubs – Arts & Crafts, Photography and Music. I loved it. Not only did I get to choose the books to offer members, I also had to brief the design and copywriting team on how to market them in the catalogues.

It was a private company. Latterly the CEO made some misjudgements and after four years I volunteered for redundancy. With my boyfriend we moved to Richmond, Surrey. He took employment while I, from the floor of our rental, stuffed the letter I’d written into envelopes and launched OOMS - One Off Marketing Services. Little did we anticipate that most projects I pulled in were to be copywriting jobs. Thankfully I discovered I could write and my partner, with his career in direct marketing, was a good editor.

After 18 months OOMS had grown sufficiently for him to leave his job and for us both to start a marketing agency. Within four years we employed 20+ people and it felt like we had as many company cars. By now we were serving Fortune 500 companies and I was the lead copywriter as well as Sales & Marketing Director.


10 years after I’d stuffed my first envelope to launch OOMS, a sea-change stirred in me. We sold the agency. I continued to work two days a week for it and explored the emerging field of healing arts in the remainder. I landed upon Feng Shui because it was second nature to me. I trained in Seattle and began my new life as a Feng Shui practitioner before giving birth to our daughter. In the early days I did consultations with her in a sling and taught Feng Shui at weekends, breastfeeding in the intervals. I qualified as a Reiki Master.

It was around that time I discovered Julia Cameron, author of The Artists Way and The Right to Write. I began writing ‘morning pages’ regularly – a freeform stream of consciousness - and became interested in dance-movement and the expressive arts.

When my daughter turned 7, I went back to University to do an MA in Somatic Arts Psychotherapy, which was to be the intellectual foundation for my book, Awaken Your Intuitive Vision, 15 years later. This was no mean feat since by now I was a single parent with the sole financial responsibility for her. The MA allowed me to integrate applied psychology that I’d dropped first time around at Durham when I’d discovered a Joint Honours Degree in Anthropology and Psychology was a heavy workload.

Towards the end of my MA I originated the creative process I’ve called the Intuitive Vision Board. I offer this as a workshop with coaching and I’ve taken over a thousand people through it. In January 2019 I published Awaken Your Intuitive Vision.


Awaken Your Intuitive Vision looks and feels lovely. It is an over-size paperback with original watercolour drawings at the start of each chapter, accompanied by a quote from a famous person which sets the tone for the chapter ahead. It was important to me that not only was it easy to read but it was entertaining too. The book describes how making an Intuitive Vision Board enables you to reach deep within yourself for the guidance and clarity to follow your heart in creating your one wild and wonderful life.

Awaken includes the psychology and philosophy behind the visioning process. I entwine tales from my clients’ with those of my own to demonstrate how direction and purpose can be found in the most astonishing ways. It takes you through step-by-step how to make an Intuitive Vision Board and how to prepare yourself to be in an intuitive frame of mind beforehand, which is essential.

What inspired me to write?

My logical left-brain answer to this question would be this. I’d been running workshops alongside my day job for about three years. By then I’d created a website and was advised to start writing blogs even though I had no idea what a blog was.

Writing a book had never been on my radar. Then one morning I woke up with a gentle notion in my head: “Mary, it’s time to write a book”. The next day I came across a book mentor who specialised in business-building books and the writing was on the wall for me to become an author. A month later we spent the day together in a London hotel laying out the book plan. All that remained was for me to write it.

My creative right-brain answer to the same question ‘what inspired me’ would be different however. I’d hit a problem. The problem was that every time I sat down to write according to the book plan nothing came. A few weeks scuttled by like this and I felt I should attend an Author’s Journey evening run by my book mentor to release my writer’s block. I invited a friend to accompany me. The highlight of the evening was when we went around in a circle so that everyone could share their ‘interesting’ book idea along with their ‘fascinating’ backstory. I shrank into the chair feeling humiliated because all I could think was how boring my book was and my reason for writing it. I left feeling utterly deflated.

On the long drive home from Portsmouth my friend Linda suddenly turned to me and said. “Mary, what has your Intuitive Vision Board ever done for you?” It was a bit like the Monty Python line: “What did the Romans ever do for us?” except I didn’t find it at all funny at the time. Thank goodness I kept my mouth shut after muttering a short answer: ‘a lot’. And I stopped short of leaving her by the roadside.


Linda, by asking me the ‘wrong question’ at the right time not only unhinged me, it unblocked me too. The next morning when I came to write my Morning Pages, 10 pages of A4 longhand poured out of me … with feeling. I found myself recalling the very painful crisis I’d been through three years earlier where I fell down a deep hole I could never have seen coming.

I described how over a short period of time, I lost almost everything all at once except for my daughter and our dog. When my partner of 10 years wanted us to leave, we lost our home because it was his house and I wasn’t married to him. Our shared belongings he felt he should keep. We’d run a business together so my work instantly disappeared. My savings I’d loaned to him when he was going through a bad patch on the promise it would be returned and never was. My car packed up and had to be replaced on a credit card. My only hope for the future – a small SIP pension - went awol with a cowboy. And to cap it all, my wealthy father died already having distributed the entirety of his estate of more than 30 properties to my step-mother and their children. My brother and I never received a penny.

It was soul-destroying beyond belief. In one foul swoop I’d lost my entire identity and was left dealing with the many repercussions of it on my own with a 16-year old and a lively Labrador in tow. I was broken-hearted, in a state of shock, and I had no money whatsoever.

Sat among the rubble I didn’t know where to begin. My so-called family were unwilling to help. I didn’t want to talk to friends about it at the time because I felt ashamed that this had happened to me.

Weeks drifted by in a haze. It was all I could do to write my Morning Pages, walk the dog, and put a hot meal on the table. But in this darkest hour I was also ready to create a new Intuitive Vision Board for myself. Curiously on that board there was no trace of crisis or angst. Instead, the collage of images I had constellated, proved to be the life-line I needed to get me out of the hole. I would not be writing this 9 years later (in 2021) and with a book published too, if it hadn’t been for my own creative process. Besides I couldn’t afford anyone else’s.

Incidentally I did write to Linda a few days after our fated car journey. I spilled the beans and thanked her. We laughed about it.

The months tickled by and little appeared to change on the surface of things but much repair work was taking place beneath. Feeling a little better I was drawn to attend a tango workshop where I was paired with a complete stranger. Only the day before I’d had the thought to put out a few feelers for part-time work so I randomly asked this man if he knew of anyone. It just so happened he had his own company. He wasn’t looking but offered me a trial and I subsequently worked for him for several years.

I didn’t realise it at the time but I had grasped the golden thread that would lead me to higher ground yet I’d constellated this scenario on the Intuitive Vision Board I’d made months earlier.

The evidence

Floating woman surrounded by pictures of the ocean. My new boss had an international floatation company called “Ocean Float Rooms”. My job was to sell the bliss of floating to well-being centres around the world. Daniel Craig and the seahorse. My boss had the muscular torso and craggy looks of Craig although he only once appeared in the office in his trunks! He was Australian, multi-versatile, and with the singular character of the male seahorse.

Live, love, teach - and a garden of flowers. By now I was running the Intuitive Vision Board workshop regularly and attracting mostly women around the table. I was starting to bloom again as I helped other peoples’ lives flourish.

Yoga teacher in the centre. I observed how one of the oldest yoga teachers in the world opened up her left side (heart) to connect her right-brain spiritual side, while grounded on the earth right-hand touching. What a suitable metaphor for the journey I’d taken and would lead other people through with the Intuitive Vision Board.

My Intuitive Vision Board had unlocked my creativity and transmuted the heartache into a constructive way forward, better than I could possibly have planned it myself.

So it came to pass, my backstory became the real inspiration behind my book. It gave me the ‘why?’ to write Awaken Your Intuitive Vision along with the solid evidence that the process worked - from my own and my clients’ experiences. If it could provide the hope and an unprecedented steer to get me through the most challenging period in my life, surely it could help others, including those facing less of a predicament.

How did I publish?

I signed up for a partnership publishing package. This arrangement sits between the traditional publisher and self-publishing as the route to market.

It worked for me because:

  • I was left alone to write the book as I needed it to be.

  • I reported in weekly to my book mentor. I didn’t need any help with the content but her regular reassurance was comforting, as was being accountable to her.

  • Once the first draft was complete I became part of a team that I didn’t have to assemble. I was assigned a designer, editor, proof reader and a printer - and it felt good to have them all working together on my project.

  • I didn’t need to set up the publishing requirements like the ISBN, placing it on Amazon, creating an ebook, registering with other online book shops, or getting it onto the UK book shop ordering systems - Bertrams & Gartner. This was such a relief, I absolutely would have hated having to wade through that.

The downside of partnership publishing was it set me back £5,000. I had no option but to take out a book loan at an extortionate interest rate. The Bank Manager who interviewed me had always wanted to write a book and was thrilled to receive a signed copy of mine when it was published.

I sold 100 books in the first few weeks and probably 250 so far. Awaken was never going to be a money-spinner or a best-seller. It was destined to be a business-building book and behaved more like a glorified business card. I didn’t have the money or the wherewithal to do what was necessary for marketing it, which you must be prepared for even with a traditional publisher. Having to do everything myself has been tortoise slow. I knew this would be the case before I started. And it wouldn’t have stopped me publishing because the other payoffs were great.

  • The boost to my self-esteem and self-confidence was immeasurable. Putting my expertise down on paper, getting the book written and published under challenging circumstances helped me to emerge from the dark ages

  • It upped my game as a writer. The discipline, commitment and tenacity it required improved my writing ability while I proved to myself I could see my own project through from start to finish.

  • I became an authority in my field of intuitive vision and precognition. It gave me a massive injection of self-belief to realise how much I knew about my specialist area. I am certainly ahead of the curve with my understanding of what this under-utilised facility gives us in terms of growth and innovation.

  • I have received many 5-star reviews on Amazon and plenty of others besides. It’s an unforgettable moment when you hand the manuscript over to someone else to read for the first time. I had 10 readers lined up before it got passed to the editor. As their positive comments came streaming in, I started to relax and believe the book was good enough myself.

How long did it take?

This book took me 3 years and there were three distinct stages to it. During the first year I would receive downloads of inspiration at times, rather like taking dictation. I had to accept early on that my ideas were not coming out in a neat, sequential fashion according to the book plan. Some of my best writing came when I least expected it; while writing Morning Pages or sitting in a coffee shop or on a long drive. At the time I didn’t know where these passages in 2,500 word bursts would go in the book but knew that eventually they would need to be stitched together into the whole.

In the second year out I ran out of money and needed to take a part-time job. I had to move house twice with my daughter and the dog, which took my energy. Even so I gave myself a hard time for not also finding the discipline to write. My book mentor agreed to a sabbatical year although it must have crossed her mind I was bailing out.

Because of all the challenges I had to deal with in the second year, my resilience grew further. This not only sharpened my focus, it also ripened the content of the book. When I resumed in the third year, my writing had stepped up a level without me trying and it all came together better than when I’d left it.

The task at this stage was more tactical than inspirational, and more logical left-brain than right-brain. It involved sifting, collating, organising, editing and referencing rather than producing a steady flow of words. During that third year I took a fulltime job to support myself - for the first time since my Book Club days – and worked on the book during long weekends and holidays. I remember it was a hot summer and I sacrificed a lot of parties while in the creative process.

When the first draft was complete it passed to the book mentor where she came into her own. With her helicopter view, she made a couple of significant recommendations which were up to me to implement. They shaped the book beautifully and it was all the better for it. Then off it went to the editor and eventually the proof reader while I got underway with the book design.


In the beginning I had no idea where to start with the design. I couldn’t afford colour throughout and I thought a series of black and white vision boards would look too similar. Then I remembered the animals on my current vision board. They spoke to me in a similar way to the Shaman’s power animal who would evoke the strengths and qualities associated with each. I visualised the animals accompanying a famous quote at the start of each chapter, setting the theme for what lay ahead. I used colours from my board to brief the designer and I found an illustrator to produce watercolours of the animals, which I also turned into T shirts.

Wisely I had anticipated I would need a good long celebratory holiday after all this effort. Besides I owed my daughter an 18th birthday present. Belatedly I booked for us to explore Cuba over Christmas and New Year’s and snapped up the last flights on Virgin Atlantic. Curiously both Cuba and the airline were on the same vision board but I never imagined at the time of making it I’d have the money to go there - until an unexpected tax rebate materialised.

I signed the book off to print in the departure lounge at Gatwick airport. Three wonderful weeks in Cuba and I didn’t give the book a second thought. Back home there was a jiffy bag leaning against my door and I remember thinking: ‘ I didn’t order a book.’ When I opened it up I discovered an advance copy of my own and my heart burst with joy.

Author's Bio


To find out more or to connect with Mary, you can make contact via her website.

Mary is the originator of the Intuitive Vision Board and author of Awaken Your Intuitive Vision.

You can buy the book here


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