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CHAPTER 1 Page 1
DEE Shipman & PAUL Jacobs



CHAPTER ONE. How It All Began…Dee.

"Would you like to do some modelling for us?"

My reactions to that question were, in order..."Wow! I must look okay after all", and then "What will they want me to wear?" Luckily Paul put me straight pretty quickly. This was nothing to do with fashion writhing, but everything to do with writing!

And as it also ultimately gave birth to Paul’s idea that we should write a book about ‘how writers write’, it seems appropriate to start with this, my own experience of the process of being modelled.

I'd first met Paul Jacobs while visiting my friends Ian and Brigit Wilson at the beautiful Dower House in Hexton, where his trainings to help people develop their full potential are held, and we'd had many friendly chats in the kitchen. One day, while discussing my latest writing project (the musical "Lautrec" at the Shaftesbury Theatre) I was telling Paul about Charles Aznavour and I having to write a completely new song just days before the start of the previews,and Paul said "How do you do that?"

These words should have warned me that they were destined to change my life!

Because it was soon afterwards that Paul invited me to model 'how I do it' for his current Master Practitioner trainees. And that's when I had to ask myself "Do I really want to know how I do it? If I analyse it maybe I'll lose it". However, after he’d explained about the presupposition that modelling excellence can lead to excellence my curiosity won the day, and I agreed.


On a Sunday afternoon some weeks later I met the New Oceans group of trainees. They were so friendly and relaxed, and the first thing that made an impression on me was .....everyone was actually having fun! And even though they appeared to be talking a different language, or at least, using language in a very different way, they all really seemed to know what they were talking ABOUT!

And what really impressed me was that they weren’t being over-serious, pretentious, or intellectual about what they were doing: so for me, it felt like the most natural experience, familiar and comfortable….like coming home.

And gradually they teased out of me how I actually write. I was absolutely fascinated by the questions...and also by my answers! I truly didn't know what I was going to reply at some points, and then I heard myself saying something, and I listened and thought "That's true, I hadn't realised it before", and "Wow, that's amazing; does it mean I'm schizophrenic?". This particular reaction came when I was telling them about the different perceptual positions I take when writing.

Now that I have done the Modelling Excellence trainings and am a Master Practitioner myself, I can describe in strategic terms what I had been doing, and how I'd been doing it; how I continue to do it in fact, only now I can consciously access the unconscious processes I use.

It also gave me first-hand experience of what happened inside their heads when we asked these same questions of the writers we interviewed for this book.


Although I didn't take willingly to computers, I have always referred, in a writing context, to "putting things into my computer" and letting the "program" form the piece, which I would access when I received a signal (usually words - I'm auditory) to tell me I was ready to continue.

So first, environment....where and when do I write? Well, in general terms, anywhere and any time.When I get an idea, wherever I am, whenever it is, I'll write it down on the nearest piece of paper.I've got a pile of scraps of business cards, paper napkins, even tissues, with jottings I didn't want to lose. I'm writing this on a sunny Friday afternoon on the balcony of my house, on a cream canvas Ikea deckchair, an A4 student pad on my lap, and a yellow and white pen in my left hand. More often I'm at my desk in my top-floor studio. At a later stage I will type it into my lap-top (it's now twenty past eleven Friday evening and here I am) at the kitchen table....kitchens feature large in my life! I also frequently write at night in bed.

Next, behaviour....before actually sitting down to write, let's say a song, I will have gone through my 'computer' sequence. Then, if the music pre-exists, I sit at my desk, leaning back, legs out-stretched under the desk, ankles crossed, shoes discarded, wearing my 'slob' clothes (old and comfortable). I listen to the tape over and over. Words come into consciousness, fragments of feelings. Suddenly something, a word, an idea, sometimes a whole line 'grabs' me and I sit up, lean forward, write it down. I then note down the musical shape,and, if it's one of Aznavour's French songs, I write down his rhyme pattern to keep as close as possible to it in English.

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