Being a Narrative NLP Practitioner

Being a Narrative NLP Practitioner

I am often asked how I can be a ‘narrative NLP Practitioner’. What do I mean by it? Rather than try to come up with a definition of terms I like to explain with examples of my own experience…

One of the most fascinating aspects of narrative practice is its tendency to encourage self-reflective thinking – thinking about my own thinking.

Recently I noticed that I hadn’t written any new poetry for a while and I began thinking that maybe I was about to experience the dreaded ‘writer’s block’.

Happily I subscribe to ‘Create Create!’ a twice monthly ezine From Creativity Coach Dan Goodwin at and last week I received these questions:

  • · How much more time would you like to spend creating, and how often?
  • What are the main reasons you don’t feel able to spend more time creating?
  • How would your creative life be different if you had more time to create?

Synchronicity supports creativity in that it allows unrelated incidents to appear related and in that synchronistic moment, I adopted a creative response to thoughs about my own creativity.

Thinking about thinking

I was thinking about my own thinking.

I had been thinking about not having written any new poetry and was making that mean ‘writer’s block’

Dan Goodwin was inviting me to think about spending more time creating.

At this point I decided to stop thinking and ‘be’ a writer… by writing answers to Dan’s questions without thinking about what I was going to write.  Here are my answers:

  • I would like to spend at least half an hour every day – I used to do this easily but ‘life and work’ seem to have taken over…

I realised as I typed that that wasn’t strictly true: I’m a narrative NLP coach; all my coaching is creative and I write creative material for courses and websites.  I wrote a little more:

  • What I now want is to include time specifically for writing poetry, stories and a second novel – that’s the bit that I’ve pushed out of the picture.
  • It’s possible that writing poetry etc feels like self – indulgence which the old protestant work ethic manages to judge as unworthy
  • Getting poetry and fiction published more often would be wonderful for my belief in myself as a writer (the irony of this does not escape me!)
  • Thanks for creating this opportunity for me to hear my own old stories playing out… it has already made the difference
  • I have been making something mean something else by carrying old, unreliable stories unnoticed
  • I am being creative and can choose to acknowledge my own creativity.  I realise that work can be creative and creativity can be work AND that I always have a choice about which stories I listen to.

Dan had created an opportunity for me to hear my own old stories playing out.  If asked I would say that I don’t believe in writer’s block and I certainly don’t subscribe to a protestant work ethic but in those few creative moments, responding to some synchronistic questions, I stumbled upon a version of myself I had not been paying attention to.

On reflection I became aware of a very ‘narrative ‘NLP process which had taken place in the short space of time taken to write four sentences.  I had

  • identified the problem story
  • taken a step back to look at the trap I had both set myself and fallen into
  • recognised a familiar pattern
  • identified the trigger
  • selected personal resources which could make a difference
  • SWISHed in a new response to the trigger
  • future paced the outcome

Narrative NLP, like all Narrative Practice is more about who I am being than what I am doing.  I may have been drawing on my experience of both Narrative and NLP trainings but it was how I was constituting myself: ‘being a writer drawing on those experiences’ that allowed me to see the possibilities and make new choices for the future.

Special thanks to Creativity Coach Dan Goodwin at

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