Chiz’s Writing Journey: Decisions, Doubts, and the Heartbeat of Mentorship


Three years ago, I declared to the world that I was writing a book.

So, I started writing. But back then I had no idea how multifaceted a book project is. How much time it demands. How much emotion it unearths. How many decisions have to be made.

Then work got in the way. Pandemic recovery got in the way. Life got in the way. The work started to feel like a shovel that’s collected too much snow, and, sweaty and swearing, I threw it down.


A year ago, I started over.

I went on sabbatical, with the intention to actually write the thing. I had five months of open time. I was going to finish this book.

It was a great experience. For the first 8 weeks it felt like I was working on the book. Then the book started working on me! Big experiences on Fogo Island, Newfoundland with the Shorefast Foundation and in Alert Bay, BC with the Nawalakw Healing Society stoked the fire and deepened my convictions about mentorship and community. These themes continued in South Africa accompanied by my daughter Rose. A combination of taking part in Trip With a Purpose (a creation of old friends, Mike and Lauren Slattery) and visiting Columba Leadership in Johannesburg made an impression on both of us that will last a lifetime. One last month in Scotland gave me the chance for important conversations with friends and mentors there and the opportunity to reconnect with Columba 1400 on the Isle of Skye.

And through it all, I wrote to make sense of what was happening.

In September, I came back to Roy Group—ready for our 20th year in business.


I am still writing.

Writing a book is ridiculously hard. I am so grateful for a conversation with Dan Coyle (author of The Talent Code and The Culture Code) who warned me that I would feel as if I was lost at sea. If he hadn’t thrown me that little lifesaver in advance, I think I would have quit by now.  It’s a massive project, not totally unlike building a start-up, with an equal number of complexities.

Worse, my book is about this ephemeral thing called mentorship. How do I capture such a nuanced role on the page? How do I write a book teaching people how to be a mentor when one of my core convictions is that you can’t call yourself one? 

Why, so often when I sit down to write, am I gripped by doubt?

It’s work worth doing, but man, is it exacting. I’ve had to examine, stress-test and push back on every one of my beliefs around mentorship to see which ones hold fast in my heart. I’ve jettisoned things that felt like convictions, but that I now realize are too narrow to matter in the bigger conversation.

To top it all off, I’m being utterly schooled as I go: rewriting passages that are vague or cryptic or just plain boring; having my brain melt into pieces as I try to decide for the seventh time whether I want to wait in the two-year lineup over at the traditional publishing pavilion, or just get the thing into your hands before the world tilts again and I have to rewrite it for a different landscape.


What’s my point?

Despite what feels like slow progress, the book will be coming out sometime in the next year—which is awesome, because this dovetails with Roy Group’s 20th anniversary in September.

Incidentally, What’s your point? is one of the questions that needed an answer in the blueprint I built to guide the entire book’s writing process. I’ll share a few of the other things I needed to ask myself, so you know where I’m headed with it. Things like:

Who the book is for.
(That’s you.)

Where the book will sit in the bookstore.
Easy: personal development. This goes much deeper than leadership.

What similar books my audience might be reading.
I picked Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and How to be an Adult in Relationships by Dr. David Richo, plus a few others.

My working title. Mentor’s Way.
It’s a nod to The Artist’s Way, because I hope this book is just as effective at creating meaningful change in people’s lives.

The logline.
In Hollywood, a logline is a quick summary you can say in one outbreath. Here goes:
Mentor’s Way is a collection of conscious mindsets, skill sets and motivations a leader needs to take forward (and a few things they need to leave behind) if they would like to be remembered as someone’s mentor.

If I take just one more teensy little breath,
I could also add that it’s a manifesto for the mentors of our next generation of leaders.

What’s the structural prototype of the book?
Conceptual. Think The War of Art by Steve Pressfield.

I could tell you about each of the other 14 parts of the blueprint for this book.
They’ve been enormously helpful in guiding me as I develop the content. But they’re not the core of the thing.


The beating, hopeful heart of what mentorship really means.

What it really looks like, what it does to you deep down inside, and how it’s a powerful enough lever to shift the whole world.

That’s what the book is for.

So glad you’re in the loop with me on this one.


Want to read an excerpt?