A young mum from a creative writing group in Norfolk has become a rising star as her novel tops 1000 downloads on Amazon Kindle.

Self-published author and mother-of-two Josie Eccles attends NHS Norfolk and Waveney’s creative writing group at the Norman Centre in Mile Cross, which inspired her to write teen comedy ‘The Prom, the Date and a Whole Lot of Laxatives’.

Josie, from Kett’s Hill, started writing the novel after a knee operation. “I was looking for something to pass the time while I couldn’t really do much. I started taking what I wrote to the group and they all found it really funny!

“The group is great because you get criticism that is never negative; it is constructive and helpful. I always like writing but never knew what to do about it. Their feedback really encouraged me to write more.”

Maggie Simmons, who runs the creative writing group, said: “Everyone at the group says that they greatly enjoy the creative expression they’ve been able to tap into and how this has helped them with their difficulties and improved their overall wellbeing.

“I believe that creativity has a beneficial effect on the neural pathways in the brain and this opens up new ways of ‘seeing’. I think this may be similar to a meditative process achieved through mindfulness.

“One young woman with severe learning difficulties was withdrawn and agitated when she first attended the writing group. We all encouraged her to use her imagination and express this in her writing… and she has blossomed. She is very much happier now.”

Josie added: “I have two children and writing is a chance for some ‘me’ time. There are other people in the group who are unable to socialise and get out much because of disabilities. Creative writing is an escape for us all.”

Josie’s book is about a girl who is fighting a popular girl for a sought-after boy in school. Feeling unable to compete she begins to play pranks, which get increasingly more inexcusable culminating in a hilarious incident with laxatives.

Lucy Macleod, Consultant in Public Health, said: “Health isn’t just about treating physical symptoms; it is about a person’s whole wellbeing. Taking time for yourself, having a creative hobby, It is really important for people to take time for themselves ”

The Norman Centre took the place of the popular Mile Cross wellbeing project Real Health Action when it disbanded in 2011. The creative writing group includes people with a range of health difficulties including MS, depression, learning difficulties and spinal injury.

‘The Prom, the Date and a Whole Lot of Laxatives’ costs £1.53 to download. Josie also runs frequent free download campaigns, which has gained her more recognition through word of mouth.

One review of the book on Amazon said: “The very first page had me laughing out loud to myself… This reminded me of being a teenager, even though that is 20 years ago… I can imagine that teens of today would relate well to this book. I loved it.”

NHS Norfolk and Waveney

To find out more about Lowestoft College ring 0800 854695