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Turn the tap on - Client Experience: Mike Allen

When Mike, the Berlin-based Irish-English writer reached out to me with his vision that he wants to become a published author, I got mega excited. Writing is really dear to my heart, I've been writing short stories since I was eight and as a coach, supporting a real writer moving to the next stage in his career felt like a dream. This challenge also raised a question in me: I'm not native English speaker, how will it interfere with this engagement? I addressed this concern to Mike and he had a pretty confident response:


"I've enough people who can help me with writing. I need someone who will help me with my thinking."

Each day you gonna be a different you.


Well, I felt absolutely ready to do that! We went even farther and during our coaching journey Mike allowed me to support him in exploring and enriching multiple layers of his life and expanding the depths of his being. He wanted to turn the tap on, an analogy he used for moving from scared to excited. I feel honoured and thankful for contributing to Mike's (success) story and help him grow, unfold and show the world his greatness and his incredible sense of humour.


Photo: Mike Allen



Overcoming the deadline panic



What was life like before you started working with me?

Before working with you, my biggest obstacle was committing to submitting things on time – the dreaded deadline. A writer’s life is littered with deadlines big and small, yet I had developed an uncomfortable relationship with them based on avoidance and fear. As a deadline approached, I would feel increasingly emotionally blocked, then worried, then overwhelmed. Consequently, I did not set myself deadlines because I did not trust myself to meet them. I struggled with finishing things and setting myself realistic goals. And though I had no problem achieving this in other areas of my life, I found it near impossible to achieve them in my writing life.


What did you try that didn’t work?

I had tried on countless occasions to establish a more consistent writing routine, to set myself deadlines and meet them, but every time I felt blocked by the same unhelpful thoughts and feelings. And when I did have occasional periods of progress in my writing, they were short-lived, and I found myself wishing I could learn to be more committed, more consistent. Essentially, I had trouble developing trust in myself, and found it difficult to give myself the permission to let go and embrace uncertainty.


How did you know that Zsanett is going to be able to help you?

My decision to work with Zsanett was largely intuitive. Knowing that I wanted help with developing a kinder, more enabling mindset towards my writing life and deadlines, I contacted you in the spirit of ‘why not?’, and felt an instant affinity when we first spoke. I explained the ways in which I felt stuck and she reflected my words back to me with curiosity and compassion. Following our initial meeting, I felt understood, and that I was in safe hands – all I needed to do was trust in the process.


Own and nurture your capacities within


Where are you now?

Over the past few months, I have felt my confidence grow in countless ways. I have established a productive and sustainable daily writing routine. I frequently set myself and meet deadlines. I feel lighter, more capable, and my writing process itself has correspondingly become more free and energetic.


In short, I have moved from scared to excited. The insights that led to this change are numerous, but the following three have been key: to be specific when defining what it is I want to achieve, to track my progress visually, and to focus on how the deadlines I set myself are aligned with my long-term life goals. By guiding me to think about the direction of my life as a whole,


you helped me to clarify and strengthen my sense of purpose and to reconnect with my deepest desires – desires which, like the twisted limbs of the Joshua tree, are free to sprout in any given direction.

Illustration: Mike Allen

During the course of our sessions together, I met a deadline early – perhaps for the first time in my life – for which I was subsequently awarded an international writing fellowship. This only confirmed to me that by trusting in the process, by learning to engage more and worry less, I could discover the capacities I needed within myself. The capacities were there all along, of course, but you helped me to recognise, own and nurture them.


Thank you, Zsanett.


 

Mike Allen is a writer from the UK. He is a Sozopol Seminars fellow, the recipient of the Escalator Prize by the UK National Centre for Writing and the winner of the Seán O’Faoláin International Short Story Prize. His deliberate, and humorous style is infused with a taste for the tragicomic. He invites his passionate readers to be part of an experiment and enter a space of engagement, contemplation and intimacy. He writes short stories that he completes with his own illustrations, and is currently working on his first novel.


 


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