Jersey Shore Scene Featured Author Of The Month: Jamie Sussel Turner

The month of June brings us to our second author profile. Please meet Jamie Sussel Turner:

Question 1– When and how did you start writing?

Throughout my education I was the worst writer. My words were clear in my mind but would evaporate when I tried to get them on paper. Then two things happened. First, computers came into use and I found that when typing, for the first time ever, I could have a smooth flow from thought to paper (thanks to my mom for forcing me to take typing in high school). Then as a principal, my school became part of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. We were fortunate to have monthly consultants train teachers to learn new ways to teach writing—and I finally I became a writer right along with them!

Question 2– What do you like to write about most?

I’m a non-fiction writer at my core. Since my first cancer diagnosis in 2001 I’ve been studying stress. This began as my way to live a more peaceful and joyful life, and has since grown into my mission to help others learn to do the same. So, I write about the choices we have when we’re face-to-face with stress, both in the workplace and in our personal lives. These writings appear on my blog and feature in over 40 stories in my second book, Less Stress Life: How I Went from Crazed to Calm and You Can Too. Also, from my years as an educational leader I’ve written about leadership, which is the focus of my first book, Less Stress Business: How to Hire, Coach, and Lead Great Employees.

Question 3– What do you find to be the easiest and hardest thing about writing?

The hardest part of writing for me is figuring out what the heck I’m trying to say. Usually, I’m about ten drafts in before I when I realize, Oh, that’s what this piece is about. I’ve gradually learned to value—and not judge—my writing method. I’m not the kind of writer who can whip out words quickly. My many-draft-process generally leads me to clarity and hopefully my readers too. The easiest part of writing for me is revision. I love tinkering with my writing to make it shorter, clearer, and more engaging.

Question 4– What writers do you most admire and why?

Oh, the list of writers I admire is a long one. Let me stick with non-fiction writers. My first self-help author was Harriet Lerner. Her insightful books helped me see how much I could grow from the self-help genre. I’ve also long admired Anna Quindlen. When she was a New York Times Op-Ed writer I’d flip to her column before reading anything else. We’re about the same age and she mirrored the angst and joy in my life. Recently I discovered Kelly Corrigan who makes me laugh out loud with her honest writing and vulnerability. That brings me to Brené Brown. I admire how she uses vivid and entertaining stories along with research to convey her message. 

Question 5– How do you get your ideas for stories and what’s in the future for you in writing?

Well, the only stories I write are real stories, so my challenge is choosing which stories to tell. Learning is one of my highest values. That focus makes me work to find stories with life lessons that teach. And these stories are nearly everywhere I look. My blog and books teach others how to have less stress through these kinds of vivid and memorable stories. I’m often asked if a third Less Stress book is in the works. While I do have a few ideas, time will tell if I’m moved to take on another project. I’ve long felt that my Less Stress brand could become the new “Dummies” series. You could put Less Stress in front of nearly any topic to help people get a grip on their stress and live with more joy.

Closing – Can you share a memorable experience you’ve had purely because you are a writer?

It’s a good writing day when the writing gods bestow me with something grand, like an apt metaphor for the message I’m trying to convey. Here’s what I mean. In 2017 I sat at my computer writing Less Stress Life and glanced out the window watching the sun glistening on the ocean. In that moment this thought arose: Stress is like the ocean. It never stops. Just like the waves, stress will always keep coming. In the same way that swimmers have choices to jump over a wave or dive through it, we also have choices in how we handle our stress. I had a similar and equally powerful moment when writing my first book, Less Stress Business. A memory popped up from me at summer camp.  I was 12-years of age and asked by a counselor to lead a horse into a trailer. I stood facing the horse, pulling the rope to get him to move. The horse wouldn’t budge. I endured an excruciating skin burn on my hands as he backed away from me (ripping the rope through my fingers). I later learned that the best way to lead a horse into a trailer is to stand beside the horse and walk up the ramp together. This story became the metaphor for how leaders can lead their teams by leading along with them—not in battle against them. Ah, those are the writing moments I live for!

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