TRANSCRIPT

Sue Campbell: Welcome to the Pages & Platforms podcast. I’m Sue Campbell, a book marketing and mindset coach. Lots of writers have goals but many writers don’t have the healthiest relationship with their goals. Goal Getter School is a place where I teach writers to meet their goals without being an asshole to themselves and without burning out. Listen to students share their key takeaways from the program and get some gems for yourself. Hi, Neroli Lacey, welcome to the Pages & Platforms podcast.

Neroli Lacey: Hi, Sue. Great to be with you.

Sue: Great to be with you too. Thanks so much for agreeing to come on today and talk about what I think you’ve built for yourself, which is just a really, really cool writer’s life. So, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you write to start us off?

Neroli: Sure. I write upmarket women’s fiction. The way I describe it is delicious fiction for clever women, and I’ve got three novels coming out shortly. 

Sue: You want to tell us what they are? Give us titles. 

Neroli: I’ve got The Perfumer’s Secret, set in a 300-year-old family perfume house in Grasse, France. I have got, Holy Cow, What Now? set in London’s Notting Hill and Manhattan, and After the Affair, about a Harvard professor who finds her husband having a homosexual affair and has to decide whether to leave the marriage or stay. 

Sue: That sounds like beautiful upmarket women’s fiction. Thank you. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about what your goal was for Goal Getter School.

Neroli: My goal was around creating a better, more comfortable writer’s life. In other words, my goal was really about what are the things —  I always write. I write pretty much every morning of the year. And I love to write till about one or two. Then of course I have all the other life stuff to do, work stuff, family stuff, admin stuff, et cetera. Like we’ve all got, way too much of that. I was finding that I was on the computer all morning and then on the computer all afternoon. I live in Manhattan and never get out of the flat. My goal was to have more energy, physically and sort of emotionally, so that I had more energy for my writer’s life and just to enjoy my life more. To be more productive, but to enjoy it more.

Sue: Love that. Let me share a little bit about the current writing routine that we had documented for you for Goal Getter School. A lot of this you were already doing, right? We just did some fine tuning. So you did 10 minutes of notebook writing, 30 minutes of manuscript writing, 30 minutes of marketing, 20 to 30 minutes of analyzing works that you love, and then you would do sometimes a second mini writing session on your manuscript and then reading in the afternoon for 30 minutes. 

Neroli: Yeah, but I think I developed those at the beginning of Goal Getter School. I think I didn’t come in with those. It was by coming into Goal Getter School, by working with you, that I actually started to think about what my writing life was like.

Sue: I remember you and I sitting down, ’cause when you were contemplating coming into Goal Getter School, you were like, “What would I even do? I don’t know.” What you wanted to do was like, how do I build a life that feels holistic? And that has the energy component and that has the time for study and the time for improving your craft and the time for writing and all of those things. I know you were working on one of your books, finishing the edit on one that was really, really close, and then you did a lot of work marketing wise. The marketing work that you did was on your website during that time.

Neroli: That meant a whole lot more than I knew. It was about my author brand, my visual identity, you know, my kick-ass book covers. 

Sue: You got through a lot in Goal Getter School, so tell us where you think you ended up after Goal Getter School.

Neroli: The end result was a zigzag road to get there, and there were many things along the way. It’s now late May, so it’s now five months since I began Goal Getter School. From a very practical point of view, what I learned to do was to plan my work in 90-day chunks, plan my work three months at a time. That has been unbelievably helpful for me because I’ve learned to reduce the number of goals that I have and be totally committed to achieving those goals. 

I’ve got the kind of brain where I get up in the morning, I want to do something different. A new shiny idea comes to me and I look at my 90-day plan and I say, no, my commitment is to get across the finish line with the following projects. In the beginning I set way too many goals for 90 days, but I’ve learned. I’m now in my second 90-day chunk. So that’s from a very practical point of view what I learned to do: to plan out my year and to plan out my three months.

It’s really helped me to stay on task and to stay focused and actually not to feel too overwhelmed because I set myself a few goals, but I am a hundred percent committed to achieving them. That’s been fantastic. I think in a more abstract way, what I have learned is exactly what I have been aiming for many, many years. I love my work. I’m passionate about it. I get excited about it. Like every writer I can get into sort of troughs of low energy, you know, low enthusiasm. We all go through those sort of ups and downs. And I tend to sort of push myself too hard. I’m a perfectionist, to drive myself through.

So what I have actually learned, It’s just the right amount of tension between working hard and leaning into tasks — tasks that are hard, by the way — and backing off. So every day I have a set amount of time to, let’s say, do marketing or work on my manuscript. I push myself to do things that are uncomfortable and new and feel challenging, but I don’t work all day long, forever and ever. I back off and then I go back at it the next day. 

That for me has turned out to be like the perfect way to work, where I work on things that are difficult and then I back off. And, you know what? Goal Getter School is the gift that keeps on giving because — it’s really working with you, Sue. That’s the gift that keeps on giving. I’ll explain that in a minute, but when I went into Goal Getter School, I took the time to think about what goals I wanted to work on, and then because I shared my goals with you, or you and I worked on them together, I felt that you were always there in the room with me and that I had a commitment to you as well as to just myself to complete those goals. You are such an amazing coach because you push me — quite hard, but never too hard. I always feel like you are on my team. That’s been great.

It’s been a very important part of having this just-right tension and to refer to this thing of working with you and Goal Getter School is the gift that keeps on giving is because it’s May now, so it’s now two months since I finished Goal Getter School, and I’ve had a 17-year problem of like, how do I manage my time? Given that like everybody else, I’ve got way too many things that I think I need to do, and most of them, nearly all of them are on a laptop and four weeks ago I decided I’m going to take a long walk in the afternoon for one to two hours, whether I have time or not. I’ve done that every single day since. It’s not exercise, it’s thinking, it’s unwinding, it’s relaxing, it’s a kind of meditation. It’s what I need to go back to my work with fresh energy. It’s not like setting that goal, I came up with the instant solution. It’s like I set the goal, I gave my brain a challenge, and then over time I have worked my way towards it, as you’ve taught me. Try lots of things. If they’re not working, try something different. 

Sue: Oh, thank you so much. I just love watching the unfolding. As a coach, watching people find their own answers, learn what works for them, solve the tricky shit that their brain has been doing to them for years and years, and be like, oh, this is the way that I work with myself. I think a lot of people assume when we’re talking about Goal Getter School, we’re gonna go, go, go, and we’re just gonna white knuckle it until we achieve it come hell or high water.

That is just not the way that things get done sustainably. Will that work for one project? Yeah, of course. But if you take that approach to your goals over the long term, you are going to burn out. You’re gonna get sick, you’re gonna get divorced, you’re gonna get a drinking problem. All of these things because of the way that you’re pushing yourself. Whereas what we all want is that, “I get to build a creative life where I’m doing the work and showing up, and I get to go for a walk and recharge, and I get to spend time with my family.” 

Neroli: Yeah, and I think that, as well as part of having this tension between pushing myself to do hard things and then pulling back and going for a walk, is I think I am now comfortable feeling uncomfortable every single day. That is what I need to build an author career, because now that I’m moving out of strictly writing novels (which was its own small hill to climb, to teach myself to do that), I’ve got probably 25 folders under the folder Sell My Books. There are many tasks. It really is like starting a business and they’re all tasks that I don’t have experience in, in spite of the fact that I was an investment banker and a journalist and all those other things in my life. I’m just comfortable now, getting uncomfortable every day with something new that I need to learn how to do or that I want to learn how to do. It’s quite exciting 

Sue: That is absolutely inspirational, Neroli, I love it. Is there anything else you want to share with the audience about what you learned in the process that could help them?

Neroli: Well, I always love being part of a group because I learn by watching other people. Though, in particular, it’s rather small-minded of me, but I sit there and listen to other people and I think, “God, if she can do it, I can do it.” So to have the magic combination of you — and you really have been the most fantastic coach, Sue. You meet me where I am. No, you don’t. You push me quite hard actually, but in a really fun way, and you just  get me. That’s the thing. That’s just really, really wonderful for me. And you work so fast, you just pick up things so fast. You get me and you get all the other people that you’re working with, as far as I could see. I had the extra thing of being in a group and we each had very, very different goals. I loved that combination. I think the 90 days was a great tee-up for me to plan my life, my work life, every 90 days. You’ll be very proud of me, Sue. ’cause I went one step further and I built myself a Kanban board so I’ve got it all visually laid out. I’m really doing it now. 

Sue: I love that so much. Oh, I’m delighted. Well, tell us a little bit about your future projects. You’ve got your 90-day increment mapped out. What are you working on right now? What are you heading towards? 

Neroli: I’m heading towards getting my website over the finish line, and it’s a bit more than a website. It’s my author brand, it’s my visual identity. It’s getting the best designer in the world to do my three book covers and all of that having a really incredibly powerful brand identity. And my new tagline, which also came out of this — delicious fiction for clever women — is actually a sort of virtuous feedback loop because I’ve put all that work in. By having that very professional (or I hope professional), or a product that excites me visually, it actually feeds me confidence in my writing and who I am as a writer. I am full steam ahead. I’ve got these three books in the works and I can’t wait to write the next three.  I’m just so excited to get out there and start having conversations with readers. That’s what I want to do. That’s what I’m really looking forward to.

Sue: Well, give us the website address. I know that it’s still being worked on, but this will be published over the summer, so hopefully by the time this airs, the website will be ready. 

Neroli: My website is www.nerolilacey.com.

Sue: Great. We’ll have it in the show notes as well so people can click through. I’m just so excited to continue working together and keep listening to the podcast.

Neroli: It’s not currently live because you’ve gotta wait for the new fabulous next website.

Sue: It’ll be coming soon and everyone should join your newsletter when that happens, so they can keep tabs on your fabulousness. I am super excited to keep working. Everyone keep listening to the podcast ’cause Neroli will be back for a special season, and you’ll be able to watch all of the work she’s done in branding come to fruition as she launches books too.

Neroli: Thank you, Sue. It is such fun to work with you. 

Sue: This is wonderful. Thank you so much for being here. You’re a delight to work with.

That’s our interview for today. I hope you got some gems that will help you reach your goals. If you want to learn more about Goal Getter School and maybe even apply for the Fall 2023 cohort visit https://www.pagesandplatforms.com/goalgetter

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