Big Blonde: A Modern Enlightenment Salon... coming up!
On March 2nd 2015 I'll be speaking at the Big Blonde Salon.
"we absolutely love bringing together exceptional women because wonderful things tend to happen when we do" (amen to that)
In partnership with Soho House: We're doing something a little different, and asking our speakers to use a particular theme as their starting point - this month it's 'Hunger'. We're thrilled to be joined by author and TV presenter Emma Woolf, Vietnamese supper club host and film-maker Uyen Luu, and creative director and director of materials for the Institute of Making Zoe Laughlin. This event is for Soho House members and their guests only.
I’m spending the month of February hundreds of miles from London on a self-imposed writing retreat. I've rented a little house *location secret* with a river splashing past at the bottom of the garden. No television, no radio, no neighbours, no visitors. Nothing but writing, reading, long walks, hot baths, yoga and silence. Feels incredibly zen and peaceful.
It’s all about Letting Go (and the Joy Of Missing Out). As my new book officially publishes today http://goo.gl/u6BLvxI've taken some time out from the real world to work on my next one.
Miraculously, the sun has been shining. Even more
miraculously I am writing: nearly 10,000 words in the first week. It took a bit of
juggling workwise, and I’m still checking email/Twitter once a day (compare
this to the average 150 times a day for most of us) and doing
radio/interviews by phone. But without the fun interruptions and meetings and
nights out in London, my head feels clear and my novel is taking shape. Walking
is a great way to work out plot and dialogue, to recharge with fresh air and
open skies, to get headspace and perspective. Green and primal and quiet. As always, after a few days of
not reading news or social gossip or updates, I completely lose interest in all
that. It doesn’t really matter.
My friends, nothing could be better than a physical and
mental detox. Let go of those everyday distractions. Take time for yourself;
make time for your work (whatever that might be). Check out my new book and
plan your own escape. Relish the opportunity to miss out on whatever the f*ck
is going on…
An excerpt from Letting Go, written on retreat last year in deepest darkest French Pyrenees:
‘For me, being completely disconnected was one of the most
radical aspects of the retreat. I still don’t understand how something so
simple could be transformative, and why I’m not able to avoid social media,
emails and the internet of my own free will. Why does it take enforced
seclusion and a costly retreat to make me disconnect?
Looking back, I see how I desperately I needed to switch
off. That autumn, I had been close to meltdown. It had crept up on me, a
combination of writing deadlines, digital overload, too much socialising and
too little sleep. I decided to make my break from technology total. We had been
advised to leave laptops and tablets behind, and encouraged to keep our phones
25 years since the invention of the World Wide Web, most of
us spend hours every day online. We’re either on our computer, checking our
emails, talking via Skype, tweeting, or connected in some way. What’s the first thing you do when you wake
up? Or before you go to sleep? While waiting for the train? In the queue at
Starbucks? If you’re anything like me, you’re aimlessly Googling, checking out
Instagram pictures or Pinterest boards, bidding for something on eBay, updating
your calendar, replying to texts. How can we expect to fiddle with these
devices until late into the night – admit it, many of us take our tablets or
phones to bed – then switch them off, and switch ourselves off too? When we
have these devices in our bedrooms we’re giving our bodies and brains confusing
signals, blocking the natural production of melatonin, and thus interfering
with our natural sleep cycles. We are artificially wakeful but simultaneously
sleep-starved. No wonder many of us are left feeling distracted, anxious, and
unable to power down…
Necessary as it was, I also found the prospect of this
digital detox daunting. Back in London I’d packed a stack of books – with no
internet, mobile or newspapers, how would I fill my time? I needn’t have
worried: almost every hour of the day was accounted for, from dawn yoga to
evening meditation, by way of neurofeedback, life coaching, massage and
Our bedrooms were what you might call spartan. Mine held a
single bed, a desk and chair, and a low couch, no TV or radio, no wardrobe. I
found the simple surroundings a relief. I’ve always rather liked the idea of
living in a nun’s cell (in fact I’ve always liked the idea of being a nun).
There was no mirror in my bedroom, which didn’t matter since I basically wore
yoga pants, shorts, or sundress. I didn’t use my hairdryer once, and I noticed
that all the women quickly abandoned make-up.
When we were free, between sessions, we were encouraged to
spend time alone, in silence, ‘simply resting’. This was quite a radical idea.
I found it very hard at first, not having my gadgets, no ping of texts, no flashing
red light to validate my existence. Before I left I had set an email autoreply,
and told myself that a few weeks away wasn’t the end of the world. The whole
point was to leave that anxiety behind.
Once I arrived, sans leads or chargers, and accepted that I
was stranded, offline, without a paddle (ok, Blackberry) – after a few days I
began to enjoy it. It was liberating, not knowing and not needing to know ‘what
was going on’ in the world, by which I mean who was splitting up or getting
back together with whom on the Daily Mail sidebar. I had no radio, so no
economic or political updates, no arts or science documentaries, no World
Service during the night. Of course I could have borrowed someone’s laptop in an
emergency.But I knew that if I glanced
at my emails I’d get sucked into that endless stream of replying, worrying,
replying to replies. I spent hours curled on the low couch in my
attic bedroom, writing – real writing, with pen and paper. Once I got used to
the strangeness of disconnection, my over-anxious, ‘busy’ brain began to
Letting Go: Heal Your
Hurt, Love Your Body and Transform Your Life, February 2015, Summersdale
Excited to announce that my new book is out now! It's currently riding high in the charts, as Amazon's #1 hot new release in feminist criticism, psychology & emotions. You can order it here http://goo.gl/u6BLvx or find out more below...
It's called Letting Go: How to Heal Your Hurt, Love Your Body and Transform Your Life and here's what some of the critics have been saying...
‘A practical and heartfelt guide to healing for anyone who has suffered from low self-esteem, a lack of confidence, or disordered eating. Woolf writes with intelligence, wisdom and compassion for a generation of women battling an enduring media onslaught of perfectionism. The fightback continues.’ Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, The Vagenda
‘Psychology, philosophy and personal growth marvellously rolled into one, Letting Go is a must-read. This book shows us how to develop inner confidence, open new doors, and rediscover joy and meaning in our lives.’ Deanne Jade, psychologist and founder of the National Centre For Eating Disorders
‘Letting Go is not about giving up, but about letting freedom in. This brave and personal account shows us that the path to true liberation is through embracing our true selves, however flawed we fear they might be.’ Sally Brampton, author of Shoot the Damn Dog and columnist for Top Santé and Psychologies
‘A timely reminder that though we may take ourselves for granted at times, self-care is a divine responsibility. In Woolf’s intimately personal yet relatable voice, Letting Go empowers us to accept both the role of wounded and healer.’ Caroline Kent, Telegraph journalist
‘Gutsy and engaging, Letting Go combines research and real-life advice on fulfilling your inner potential and building self-belief... Woolf’s latest book is highly recommended.’ Tim Weeks, Olympic trainer
‘Emma Woolf is the voice of friendly sanity; she is the warm, assured hand that reaches out and grasps yours. A wonderfully helpful book.’ Kate Long, author of The Bad Mother’s Handbook
Exploring the issues of love, loss, healing and happiness, this manifesto for freedom from one of feminism’s liveliest voices will guide you on the path to feeling newly, truly confident. Life doesn’t need to be a struggle. Letting go is the strongest thing I’ve ever done…
Asked what the happiest moment in her whole life was, Virginia Woolf responded 'with a shining face…. I think it’s the moment when one is walking in one’s garden, perhaps picking off a few dead flowers, and suddenly one thinks,‘My husband lives in that house, and he loves me.'