Tuesday 11 December 2018

Interview: Beth Burgess

instant-wisdom, beth-burgess, book

It's time to take a break from my usual author interviews with writers of fiction. Instead, join me in welcoming Beth Burgess to The Writing Greyhound! Beth is a therapist-turned-writer and she is here to share all the details of Instant Wisdom, her latest self-help book. Read on to find out more!

Firstly, please could you introduce yourself?
Sure. I’m a Brit and live in London. I’m a therapist, a coach, a freelance writer and an author. I’ve also done some speaking in my time, run workshops, been a journalist, and used to be the Chair of a charity. But most of all, I’m a human being who cares deeply about other people.
Tell me a little more about you – what are your interests?
A piece of me would die if I couldn’t help other people, so I’m really into charity. I am one of those people who doesn’t just want to write but needs to. Obviously, I love reading as well. I usually have a stack of 5 books beside my bed that I’m reading concurrently. I get nerdily excited about learning. I’m also a Buddhist and follow that way of life. And I love getting new tattoos.
What made you decide to become a therapist?
When I was younger, I had all sorts of mental health problems – I had a massive anxiety disorder, was a severe alcoholic, was bulimic, self-harmed, and was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. You name the issue, I had it. Having gone through all those problems, I have a huge amount of empathy for others. I wanted to help other people recover from their issues just like I did.
How did the idea for the book come about?
As a therapist, I mainly help people with serious issues. I have written two books on addiction. A Doctor who’d read my second book, The Happy Addict, emailed me and said “This isn’t just a book that can help addicts. I think this book should be in every high school in the world”. I realised then that I could help a much broader range of people with the tools and techniques I’ve learned on my own journey to recovery, through my studies, and as a therapist. So, I decided to start a new website about how to live more wisely and this is the first book in a series I’ll be creating that can help anyone improve their life.
Tell me about Instant Wisdom.
The book contains tools and techniques that anyone can use to become smarter, more creative, more capable, and solve problems easily – and most of them work in just minutes or seconds. I took what I had learned from my own life, from science, psychology and philosophy and various other sources, and turned them into on-the-spot tools that can be used to gain instant insights and better perspective. As with all my books, I tell personal stories and keep it entertaining, because I don’t think self-improvement or learning should ever be dull. There are also loads of activities in the book, so readers can get started straight-away.
beth-burgess, author

What was your writing process?
I am what writers call a ‘pantser’ - I never set out a structure beforehand. I just jot down some ideas, then let the words and chapters flow. I’m a very intuitive person, so I seem to naturally write things in a sensible order. The only requirements for me are having the curtains closed, so I don’t have any distractions, and a few gallons of coffee.
Tell me about your journey to getting published.
I have been traditionally published, but that was for addiction work, which I am well-known for. I have a big platform in addiction recovery and one of my books has won an award. Since this was expanding into a different area, I decided to self-publish Instant Wisdom because I wouldn’t have a big enough audience for a traditional publisher to consider taking me on. I’m glad I chose that route because I love the freedom it gives you. But it does mean I’ll have to work a lot harder to get an audience. However, I’m hoping that if people take a chance on the book, they’ll be hooked and want to read more from the series later on.
If someone reading this is currently going through a tough time, what would you say to them?
Remember that everything passes, good and bad. Don’t judge yourself. Instead, have self-compassion for what you’re going through. Do little positive things every day, such as listing three things you’re grateful for, and one personal strength and how you’ve used it recently. Do a small kindness for someone else and identify a positive thing about your troubling situation – is it making you stronger or wiser? Has it shown you who your friends are? Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you really need it. And read Instant Wisdom – it’ll really help you gain perspective and could help you solve your problem.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading Refuge Recovery by Noah Levine, which is a Buddhist addiction recovery book. I’m also re-reading Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury because I adore that book. I won’t list the rest of my book pile, because we’d be here all day, and I’m sure you want to get back to your own reading pile.
Have any particular books had an impact on you?
The one and only time I’ve ever written to an author to thank them for writing a book was after I’d read No Room to Live by Wynford Ellis Owen. It’s an addiction recovery book and I identified with it so much. My copy is covered in highlighter pen. In terms of what can be done with words, The Gormenghast Trilogy blew my mind. And the first time I read Samuel Beckett – it was the play Endgame – I knew I’d found one of my all-time favourite writers.
Instant Wisdom is available to buy now. Keep up with Beth's writing over on her website or get personal by visiting her blog!

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


  1. I really like goos self-help books and this one sounds really interesting. I've never heard of the term pantser but if I ever wrote a book I think I'd definitely have this strategy too!

    Soph - x

    1. Well it obviously worked for Beth so it can't be that bad of a writing strategy! Thanks for commenting x