Book Club with Anna Caig
“There are two sides to creativity,” says Joanne Burn, writing coach and published novelist.
“There’s the messy ideas side which is very fluid. You need long walks, lots of staring into
space. And then there’s the other side, pinning it all down and being disciplined. One of the
difficulties of writing is that you can get stuck on either.”
Sheffield and the surrounding area is home to a remarkable number of creative writers, both professional and amateur, published and unpublished. But where can you turn if you feel that urge to write, but are struggling to make this into a reality? This is where Burn comes in.
A life coach for over 15 years, she now specialises in coaching writers to fulfil their creative ambitions.
“Often clients come to me for help navigating the two very different elements of the creative
process. I help people find a balance, or cultivate the side they struggle with,” says Burn. “I love the process of demystifying writing. So often, it can feel difficult and out of reach. I help
people to believe that they can do this.”
Burn knows of what she speaks. Her debut novel, and former read of the fortnight, Petals
and Stones, was published in 2018. It is an open-hearted book that manages to be both
thoughtful and gripping.
She trained in Newcastle, then travelled to Brazil to learn from the life coaching guru Joseph
O’Connor. “I found, when I was working as a life coach, that often the dissatisfaction my
clients felt was due to a lack of creativity in their lives. They felt flat because they were
ignoring some hankering. The creativity that makes life worth living can be anything from
playing an instrument, to cooking, to travelling. It’s much wider than just writing or painting.
Sometimes people don’t even know what this outlet could be for them.”
Given Burn’s passion for writing, it was a natural progression for her to specialise in
“Sometimes people just don’t know where or how to start. They don’t have the confidence or
they don’t know what kind of writing they want to do. Or, sometimes, I help people who are
already writing, but they’re feeling stuck. They want to find out why their work is not
progressing, and get it back on track.
“One thing I know is that if you’re bored, you’re writing the wrong thing. You can find a way
through resistance, and you can find a way through doubt. But if you’re bored, then you
should think about changing your writing path, and finding that magic again.”
For more about Joanne Burn and her writing coaching techniques, go to